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FORGING THE SWORD
FORGING THE SWORD
THE STORY OF CAMP D EVENS
New England's Army Cantonment
William J. Robinson
Author of "Fourteen Months at the Front " and Boston Globe
Correspondent at Camp Devens
FORGING THE SWORD
THE STORY OF CAMP D EVENS
New England's Army Cantonment
William J. Robinson
Author of "Fourteen Months at the Front " and Boston Globe
Correspondent at Camp Devens
William J. Robinson
THE RUMFORD PRESS
CONCORD, N. H.
THE AMERICAN LEGION
AMONG WHOSE MEMBERS ARE THOUSANDS WHO FIRST DONNED
THE UNIFORM AT CAMP DEVENS, AND WHO, WHETHER THEY
"GOT ACROSS" OR NOT, PLAYED THE GAME LIKE TWO-FISTED
FIGHTING MEN, THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED WITH ADMIRATION
Major General Henry P. McCain, U. S. A.
Commander of the Plymouth (12th) Division and later cantonment
commander at Camp Devens
Camp Devens is the only national encampment in New
England. The work done there in preparation for the World
War measured fully up to the country's expectations. Every
New Englander and every man who served at Camp Devens
will be interested in an account of its activities.
"Forging the Sword" gives in chronological order, from the
arrival of the first man at Camp Devens to the demobilization
of the 26th Division, a full account of how New England's man-
power was assembled, equipped, trained, and thousands sent
across to fight. The author, Mr. William J. Robinson, corre-
spondent of the Boston Globe, is equipped by nature and by
experience to undertake this important work.
He lived in the cantonment for more than a year. He did
not simply exist there. He was always on the job regardless
of weather or other conditions. He had access to all places
and to all formations, and he saw the troops being equipped, he
saw them in training, and he saw them during the distressing
epidemic of influenza. He knew the officers and thousands of
the enlisted men, and associated daily and freely with them, on
and off duty. He was liked by them and had their confidence.
What he has written can be relied upon as the true story of
Camp Devens. I am pleased to commend his story of how the
sword of New England was forged to all who are interested in
Camp Devens and to all who are justly proud of the part
played by New England in the great war.
H. P. McCain,
^ . Major-General, U. S. A.
December 1, 1919.
A suggestion is really a germ. A request might be called a
germ grown up. And an order — well, everybody who has
been in the army knows what an order is!
Now there are without doubt many better qualified to turn
out a history of Camp Devens than the writer of this volume,
and for that among other reasons it is hoped that this book will
not be considered a history by prospective readers of its pages.
If they start with the idea of reading a history, they will be
disillusioned before they get very far. But the idea of a
"story" of Devens has been suggested, requested and "or-
dered" — all three, and the compliance of the writer will be
found on the pages following.
As a story containing most of the high lights of the activities
at Camp Devens it is the honest belief of the writer that it will
be found sufficiently accurate. That many, many details have
been necessarily omitted is granted. It pretends to be a gen-
eral story of what happened at New England's cantonment
during the World War, garnished with lighter details here and
there to give courage to any disinterested reader into whose
hands it may fall; that and nothing more. As such it is
offered to those who are interested.
If any credit is to be given for the publication of the story
here described, the major share of it belongs to the Boston
Globe. That newspaper published more news of New England
troops during the World War than any other Boston daily, and
carried in its columns nearly three quarters of a million words
of news regarding the troops at Camp Devens alone.
The Globe was also the only New England newspaper to
have a staff correspondent accredited to the first New England
division overseas. A Globe staff correspondent was kept at
Camp Devens from the time the first National Army recruit
arrived there on September 5, 1917, until July 5, 1919, when
practically all of the New England men returning to civilian
life through Camp Devens had been discharged.
Much credit is also due Mr. Laurence L. Winship of the
Globe staff, who was the first representative of that paper to
be stationed at Camp Devens, and who "covered" the 76th
Division during the major part of its training there. The
greater portion of the facts pertaining to the 76th Division
contained in this volume were gathered by Mr. Winship.
Thanks are due the military authorities at Camp Devens for
their extreme kindness and great assistance in providing
official data of varied nature, and to Major-General Henry P.
McCain, Captain R. G. Sherman, Camp Adjutant, and other
members of the Headquarters Staff in particular, for their en-
couragement and help.
To George H . Davis, J r. , Leonard Small and Arnold Belcher,
Globe staff photographers; to the Globe itself and to Captain
Livingston Swentzel, U. S. Signal Corps, are due credit for the
great majority of the illustrations.
The writer only asks that this story be accepted as an honest
effort to record, for the benefit of those interested, some of the
most important facts and events concerning New England's
greatest war camp.
Foreword by Major General H. P. McCain vii
I. The Campsite in the Wilderness i
II. Astonishing Construction and First Arrivals . . 7
III. How the Draft Worked 15
IV. The 76TH Division Is Organized 24
V. "In the Army Now" 32
VI. The First Forty Per Cent 45
VII. Training Begins 54
VIII. The Secretary of War Comes to Camp .... 63
IX. Off Duty and On 72
X. The 76TH Stands Inspection 80
XI. Christmas and Progress 90
XII. Finishing Touches 99
XIII. Bon Voyage 108
XIV. General McCain and the 12th Division . . . 115
XV. In the Grip of the Flu 128
XVI. The 12TH Division Breaks Some Records .... 139
XVI I. The Beginning of the End 147
XVIII. "Mopping Up" 154
XIX. The Arrival of the Y-D 160
XX. "Apres la Guerre" 165
FORGING THE SWORD
THE CAMPSITE IN THE WILDERNESS
One spring day in 191 7, a group of army officers, together
with a few civilians, drove by automobile from the headquar-
ters of the Northeastern Department in Boston to the little
railroad town of Ayer, Massachusetts. Their cars continued
through the town almost to the Shirley line where the Mohawk
Trail crosses the Nashua River.
There the cars stopped and the party alighted. They
climbed to the brow of a steep hill just off the main road, at the
top of which was located a dancing pavilion. Evidently it was
the spot they were seeking, for there they stood for some time,
pointing off into the distance, asking questions of some of the
civilians and making notes. One of the officers seemed to
command the respect and deference of the other officers in the
party. He was Major-General Clarence R. Edwards, recently
come to New England to take command of the Northeastern
For some time these people tramped about a trackless waste
of sandy land, profusely covered with scrubby trees and
bushes. Finally they entered their automobiles again and
Shortly after he returned to Boston General Edwards sent a
lengthy and detailed report with recommendations to the War
Department in Washington, and soon there came an announce-
ment from Washington to the effect that a military cantonment
for the district of New England would be built at Ayer, and in
that cantonment would be trained the men of New England
and northern New York State who were selected by the Gov-
2 FORGING THE SWORD
ernment to serve in the army we were about to raise to throw
into the World War.
Thus was the site for New England's National Army can-
tonment selected, quickly, quietly and without any pomp or
ceremony. For speed was a vital factor in the raising of our
armies, and the more quietly it was done the more quickly
would results be realized. New England didn't pay a great
deal of attention to Camp Devens at first. Afterwards the
camp became the hub of our own particular little universe.
Scarce a family in the six New England States that didn't have
some relative or friend at Devens. It would be difficult to find
a person in these Northeastern States who was not in some way
interested in it. We flocked to the camp in person on Sundays
and holidays, by the thousands and hundreds of thousands.
We looked longingly for letters from Devens. Every time
the telephone rang there was the possibility that it might be
Devens on the line, and every telegraph boy might bear a
message from this city which grew up almost over night.
But just at the very first our thoughts were elsewhere.
Things were happening so fast, event following event with such
rapidity, and each stirring us so deeply that a mere feat of
building construction passed almost unnoticed. Our hearts
were pretty full during those summer days of 191 7. Registra-
tion day, June 5, when 10,000,000 of our young men were listed
for service in the military forces of the United States, brought
the war up to our front doorstep, but with our boys still at home
and no date set as to when they would be called away, our
eyes were still fixed on the shores of Europe.
Perhaps it would be safe to say that the war really began for
us when "Black Jack" Pershing landed in Europe. Then it
was that we began to realize that our sons were soon to go
forth to battle. Pershing was to be their commander-in-chief,
and he was at last "over there."
Then came July 4. No single event during our first six
months of participation in the war so stirred us as did the re-
FORGING THE SWORD 3
ception accorded the first of our troops to reach Paris. There
was but a single battalion of them, slightly more than 1,000
Yankee soldiers. But when we read of their arrival and of
how thousands of little war orphans bent their chubby knees
and bowed their little heads as our Star Spangled Banner was
carried through the Paris streets by this little band of Yankees,
our hearts began to burn with that pride of country which
proved to be one of our greatest assets during the conflict.
Our sons began to talk of "when we get over there," and we
knew that the time was approaching.
Every country in the world, especially those which were
allied against Germany, marveled at the manner in which we
decided to raise our armies. France, of course, had compul-
sory military service before the war, but she was amazed that
America should start immediately with a form of conscription.
England didn't resort to conscription until she had been fight-
ing nearly two years. And here was a vast country of more
than 100,000,000 people whose historical associations and
political traditions emphasized the liberty of individual choice
even in war, adopting at the outset a form of compulsory
military service. It was astonishing! They were at a loss
to understand it — then.
And right here the writer desires to take issue with those who
term our manner in raising our armies "conscription." Per-
haps it was just that in the strict grammatical sense of the
word, but it was not so in spirit. It was "Selective Service, "
the fairest and most sensible manner of raising an army. And
while the service demanded was compulsory in a manner, the
men who were selected for service in the National Army were
not "conscripts" in the popular sense of the word.
For no men ever made better soldiers than did these sons of
ours who were content to present themselves to Uncle Sam and
say: "Here I am; you know where I can best be of service.
Put me there. Teach me what you want me to do, and I'll do
it as best I can. " These men came willingly and gladly. Our
4 FORGING THE SWORD
Government declared that this was the most effective way of
raising a vast fighting machine, and the men who went into
the service under the Selective Service Act were obeying the
best judgment of the powers in Washington.
The soldier who stands up today and throws out his chest
and voice in the boast that he was a volunteer makes a fool of
himself, and it will be noticed that few of our New England
soldiers do it. Those who went across with the 26th Division
and were consequently in France months ahead of the New
England National Army men were fortunate indeed, but there
were hundreds of other National Guard men — (many of the 1st
Maine Heavies, for instance) — who were left behind and did
not get across until after the National Army men. They were
the unfortunate ones. And it will be noticed that the American
Legion, that magnificent organization of the men who fought
their country's battles and returned home safely, does not dis-
criminate between the National Army man and the National
Guard man and the Regular. Each did his best according to
his qualifications and the orders of our Government, and it was
because of this that the War Department eliminated all dis-
tinction between the three classes.
New England really had the war brought home to her on
July 9, when President Wilson issued a proclamation calling
the entire National Guard of the United States to the colors.
That meant separation from some of our own, but after all it
was only a comparative few. Those people who had dear ones
in the National Guard felt the cold clutch of War's hand on
their hearts, but for the rest of New England there was still
nothing but uncertainty.
It was not until July 13, when official announcement was
made from Washington that the W 7 ar Department wanted
687,000 men in the first draft from the 10,000,000 between 21
and 31 years of age who registered under the Selective Service
Act on June 5, and that as many men as was necessary to pro-
duce this 687,000 would be called, that New Englanders gen-
erally felt the first horror of the war upon them.
FORGING THE SWORD 5
For no family with a man between 21 and 31 in it knew
whether they would be called upon to send one of their dear
ones or not. It was the element of uncertainty that made it so
hard. But the men themselves were ready. They had given
their local draft boards the necessary data from which to reach
a decision as to who should go first, and they waited, calm,
confident, ready and willing if called.
Massachusetts, having the greatest population of any of the
New England States, was called upon to supply the greatest
number of men for the first draft. In all, New England was
asked to provide 37,438 men as its first contingent. The New
England States were called upon for the following numbers:
Rhode Island 1 ,801
New Hampshire 1,204
Vermont 1 ,049
It was stated that these men would be sent to Camp Devens
for training, and then, and not until then, did the public inter-
est really turn toward the cantonment, which had been under
process of construction only about two weeks, and of which we
knew very little, as never before in the history of our country
had such an undertaking been even thought of.
Forty thousand men (for there were some 2,000 odd coming
to Devens from northern New York State also) from every
walk and condition of life, herded together into one camp like
so many cattle! The idea was revolting, not to say terrifying,
and the more timid conjured up pictures of disease-infested
holes, miscalled camps, such as were found during the Civil
and Spanish Wars, where men died by the thousands of disease.
That a modern city, even though it was constructed of wood,
6 FORGING THE SWORD
could be provided for this vast number of men in two short
months staggered the imagination, and some of us actually
scouted the idea as preposterous.
Just two days after the announcement that we would be
called on for these thousands came the word from abroad that
the American Army in France had moved up close to the fight-
ing front and that trench training "was begun without an
Our men were in it — almost. They were at the front at
least. We must back them up. The Yanks were ready, will-
ing, eager. The big camp might not "come through, " but our
men would, anyway. And so we decided that we were willing
to be shown.
ASTONISHING CONSTRUCTION AND FIRST
Nine weeks from the day on which the newspapers an-
nounced that work had actually been started on New England's
own military cantonment, the Fred T.Ley Company of Spring-
field, Massachusetts, inserted a huge advertisement in all the
Boston dailies announcing that Camp Devens — which had
been named in honor of General Charles Devens, one of New
England's general officers in the Civil War — was ready for the
New England soldiers. But that camp was vastly different
from the one that stands outside the village of Ayer today.
In fact it was only about one sixth of the present camp.
To New England then, however, it was a truly wonderful
place. Our conception of a military camp had heretofore been
a long grassy field gleaming white with tents, where at night
the camp-fires shone brightly and the men clustered around the
blaze and lifted their voices in song. It had been a mental
picture of weary soldiers sleeping on the ground, while sentries
paced around the cluster of tents in the darkness.
The newspapers announced that Camp Devens was a city of
comfortable buildings, two miles long by one and one-half miles
wide, covering an area of 10,000 acres. Just before the "first
five per cent" of New England's contribution to the army that
was to turn the tide of battle against the Huns left their homes
to begin their training, we began to realize that the seemingly
impossible had been accomplished. A city of barrack homes
for 43,000 men had sprung up on sandy hillsides and fields
which nine weeks before were covered with scrub growth and
trees, untenanted and unbroken by roads.
They switched on the lights on the night of August 30. Not
8 FORGING THE SWORD
the fire light, but electric lights, thousands and thousands of
them. And out of the darkness flashed a dream city, man-
made magic, thousands of windows blinking brightly, a daz-
zling vision rolling back into the hills like a dozen terraced
Great White Ways. New England had beaten the rest of the
country. Her cantonment was finished first, ready to receive
its thousands of potential soldiers and house them comfortably.
It had taken a civilian army to build this home for the sol-
dier army. It was a triumph for American brains, American
business organization, American labor organization, American
mechanical devices, American materials from American forests
and American factories, American transportation and, greatest
of all, for American push.
There were some 9,000 men in this civilian army, working
under a mere youngster, Frank B. Rogers, who superintended
the job for the Fred T. Ley Company. Rogers was so young
that he had to register for the draft himself. The civilian
army started to move out on August 28, their work completed.
They had worked every day for nine weeks; Sundays, holidays,
every day. For America was at war, and every moment
counted. It was, indeed, as mixed a group of laborers as could
be found anywhere, yet there was never a hint of labor trouble.
For most of them knew what patriotism is, and as they sat
down to every meal they ate on the camp site they were con-
fronted by a little sign which read:
ONLY A FEW OF US
CAN FIGHT FOR THE FLAG,
BUT ALL OF US
CAN WORK FOR THE FLAG.
HELP WIN THE WAR BY AVOIDING
DO YOUR BIT.
And so, several days before the first men were due to arrive,
this civilian army had erected more than 600 buildings, laid
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FORGING THE SWORD 9
more than 25 miles of sewer and water pipe — all of it buried
under ground — had laid more than 400 miles of electric wiring
— both light and telephone — had built nearly 20 miles of fine
granolithic road, had dug a well of some 3,000,000 gallons
capacity and had installed some 2,200 shower baths. They
had used up 34,000,000 square feet of lumber, and tons of nails
and other building material, and the camp was ready for New
England's first contingent of recruits.
When 1,000 officers, graduates of the Officers' Training
Camp at Plattsburg, New York, arrived at Camp Devens one
week ahead of the first five per cent of men to be called, they
were so amazed at the vastness of the place that they didn't
get over it for days. They found, to be exact, 199 company
barracks, 74 officers' barracks, 300 large and small lavatories,
ten regimental headquarters buildings, a large double divisional
headquarters building, ten quartermaster storehouses, 15 med-
ical buildings, three light and one heavy artillery buildings, 41
company storehouses, a refrigerating plant; post-office build-
ings, bakery, hospital buildings, fire stations, garages, stables,
guardhouses, religious and recreational buildings and other de-
tached structures enough to fill several pages.
As soon as the buildings mentioned above had been com-
pleted, many of the civilian army that had built them began to
depart. But for months afterwards laborers and carpenters
and steam fitters and engineers were still there, working in-
cessantly, even while troops were training all around them.
And they built and built until today Camp Devens is composed
of more than 4,000 buildings and more than 50,000 men can be
accommodated within its confines.
The speed of these workmen caused even Captain Edward
A. Canfield, construction quartermaster for the Government,
to marvel. Eight weeks before the first men arrived at the
camp there seemed to be just a little doubt in the mind of the
captain as to the feasibility of the undertaking in so short a
time. And this was only natural, inasmuch as it had never
io FORGING THE SWORD
been done or even attempted before. Just before the first re-
cruits arrived Captain Canfield cited to newspaper men, as an
example of the speed with which the buildings were erected,
the case of the hospital buildings, which were built at the rate
of one every 40 minutes. The hospital was planned to ac-
commodate 1,600 bed patients.
When the thousand Plattsburg graduates, who were to com-
mand the first of New England's National Army, arrived they
were lost almost as soon as they entered the cantonment. Be-
sides themselves and the 9,000 odd workmen and a few hundred
other troops on duty at the cantonment there were about
12,000 people on the grounds, but it seemed as though there
was a man only here and there.
But while New England people were interested in the size of
the camp and all the wonderful details concerning its construc-
tion, what they were more interested in were the conditions
under which their sons and husbands and brothers and sweet-
hearts and friends were going to live. They were gratified
when they found out. The enlisted men found two-story
wooden, sheathed buildings waiting for them. The upper
story was a large dormitory room, without partitions, in which
the iron cots for the whole company were ranged side by side
in long rows. Each man was given a certain amount of floor
space as well as air space for his own, and inspectors saw to it
that each man had all that was coming to him. There were
to be no congested sleeping quarters.
The lower floor, they found, was divided into two long rooms,
one a mess hall with long tables and benches and a big serving
counter at the far end, and the other a living or assembly room,
suitable for gatherings of different sorts, for lectures or study
or recreation. Altogether they were by far the most comfort-
able army quarters any one had ever seen provided for men
who were going into field service.
Outside of each barrack building was a lavatory building,
containing modern shower baths and toilet arrangements, with
FORGING THE SWORD n
running hot and cold water. The floor was of cement, and in
the center of each building was a big boiler which provided the
hot water and also kept the place warm, making a comfortable
The officers' quarters were one-story buildings, long and
narrow, with kitchen and mess hall at one end. Along each
side of the center hall running through the buildings were the
bedrooms, about eight feet by twelve, one for each officer.
When the camp was first opened the heating arrangements
had not been installed, but they were not yet necessary. Later,
however, and before the real cold weather came, more than 20
central heating plants were built to provide steam heat for
every building in the camp. Instead of running the steam
pipes under ground they were run over head, each pipe having
an outer covering, with an air space between. There was some
question in the minds of many as to whether this scheme would
work. But it did work perfectly, and on the coldest days in
winter the barracks were warm enough to satisfy the most
And there were electric lights in abundance. Alas for the
blazing camp-fires of our imaginations, around which tired
soldiers huddled and scrawled letters to us at home! Each
building was as brilliantly lighted as almost any public building
to be found in a large city. The transforming station, located
just across the state road from the cantonment, received
66,000 volts from the Connecticut Valley Power and Light-
ing Company and then "stepped it down" to the required
The water for the cantonment came from the largest dug
well in New England, some 50 feet in circumference and 45
feet deep. It was sunk on the side of a hill of water-bearing
gravel, a mile and a half from the center of the cantonment.
From the well the water was pumped into huge tanks and from
the tanks it was run through California redwood pipes — a new
thing in New England — used because it could be secured more
12 FORGING THE SWORD
quickly than metal pipes. It was said to give perfectly satis-
factory use up to ten years.
Through the underground maze of pipes, gridironed all over
the cantonment, the water was pumped to four tanks of 100,000
gallons capacity each, located on a hill at the other end of the
cantonment, so that with these tanks full at one end and the
pumping station at the other end of the water system there
was good pressure all the time.
And three fire-fighting companies were organized almost as
soon as the buildings began to spring up. Lookouts were
stationed on several hills around the camp, continually scan-
ning the horizon through field glasses. It was not proposed to
have this cantonment destroyed by fire, either through accident
or enemy design, if precautions could prevent it. The first
companies were officered by Chief Arthur H. Strong of Spring-
field, Massachusetts, and Lieutenant W. H. Kirk, for thirty
years in the fire department at Worcester, Massachusetts.
The hospital was erected on a hill at the northwest corner
of the cantonment area, a mile and a half from the infantry
section, near the old Shirley turnpike and overlooking the
Nashua River. Major G. I. Jones was the first officer in
charge. Here were placed 1,600 beds scattered through 59
ward buildings. And there was an isolation ward, an ortho-
pedic ward, a neuro-psychiatric ward, operating rooms, labora-
tories, and pretty nearly every kind of modern convenience
and luxury to be found in any large city hospital, with this
besides — a glorious pine grove with the best view of the can-
tonment, where convalescents could spend their time while
they were recovering their strength.
Scientific sanitation was insisted upon by the Government
officers from the very beginning. They condemned number-
less springs, ordered change after change in the living arrange-
ments for the workmen, and observed every possible precau-
tion against disease and infection. The cantonment seemed a
flyless, mosquitoless, insectless expanse. Everyone spoke of
FORGING THE SWORD 13
the healthy, natural conditions, with the dry, sandy location,
and what nature didn't look after the sanitary workers did. A
Sanitary Detachment from the Regular Army — three hundred
officers and men from Fort Benjamin Harrison — worked day
and night making the New England cantonment the healthiest
spot in New England.
Another advance guard that arrived before the hosts of New
England's fighting men descended on the camp was the school
for cooks and bakers, for from the outset Uncle Sam decided
to have his the best-fed army in the world. Three hundred
men with some experience in hotel and restaurant cooking, who
joined the Regular Army, were sent to camp for instruction
under Sergeant R. W. McAuley and J. Henry Ham, a former
Boston hotel chef. They, too, were ready when the men began
In the lines of quartermaster storehouses, beside the miles of
railroad tracks built for the cantonment, were tons and tons of
provisions for both the inner and outer man. There was
clothing enough for an army and food enough for several
armies. Everything was in readiness, even to the officers.
And how New England rejoiced when announcement was
made that a New England officer was to head this modern
division that we were called upon to provide! He was Major-
General Harry Foote Hodges, Boston born, of an old and
brilliant New England family, the "map maker of the Panama
Canal"; he was considered by those in the service one of the
brainiest engineering officers in the entire army, quiet, reserved
and attending to just one thing all the time — his job.
General Hodges' staff was of the same caliber. Lieutenant-
Colonel Merch B. Stewart was Chief of Staff, Major Jonathan
M. Wainwright, Assistant Chief of Staff; Captain Arthur F.
Brown, Intelligence Officer; Major Harry L. Hodges (no rela-
tion to the general), Adjutant; Captain Theodore E. Burleigh,
Assistant Adjutant; Lieutenant-Colonel H. F. Dalton, Quar-
termaster; Major Austin M. Pardee, Inspector; Lieutenant-
i 4 FORGING THE SWORD
Colonel E. K. Massee, Judge Advocate; Lieutenant-Colonel
J. W. Hanner, Surgeon; Major J. L. Siner, Sanitary Inspector;
Major George M. Peek, Ordnance Officer, and Major Charles
A. Lewis, Signal Officer.
This was the brilliant Headquarters Staff of what became
the 76th Division, National Army, U. S. A.
Other officers, including four brigadier-generals were also
there, temporarily attached to Headquarters. But they were
merely awaiting the arrival of the men who were to make up
New England's first National Army Division. Later they
organized and commanded brigades.
HOW THE DRAFT WORKED
Bright and clear dawned the morning of September 5, 191 7
— that historic day on which the first of New England's fighting
hosts left their homes for the great adventure. They had been
preceded, of course, by the National Guard men, but these
did not go to Camp Devens, and besides, they were more than
half soldiers before Uncle Sam ever entered the World W T ar.
It would be futile to attempt a description of the feelings of
the people of New England on that day. It marked the be-
ginning of many partings, of many heartaches and of much
sorrow and care and anxiety, but also of unbounded pride and
patriotism and joy of service. Not a city, town nor village in
the six New England States but what gave up at least one of
its sons on that day. And they were all headed in one direc-
tion — Camp Devens.
In the larger places thousands turned out and gave these
lads a rousing send-off, lasting in most cases from the head-
quarters of the draft board to the railroad tracks at the station.
Of course there were tears, but for the most part the Yankee
spirit — that indomitable fighting quality that was to strike
blind terror to the heart of the Hun — predominated, and our
mothers and sisters and sweethearts sent their loved ones
away with a smile.
To Maine — the Pine Tree State — belongs the credit of hav-
ing the first man report for duty in the National Army at Camp
Devens. Ernest Glenwood of Perry, Maine, was the first man
to have his name recorded by the receiving officers, and he was
followed by Hazen Hoar of Calais.
There were but 91 men in all from Maine to report as the
"first five per cent, " and they started for Devens on the night
16 FORGING THE SWORD
of September 4. They came the farthest and they reached
camp first, Maine thereby beating the rest of New England
and northern New York State in getting men into the service.
The contingent arrived at Ayer before daylight on September
5, having come in on the Bar Harbor Express to New York.
They occupied two special cars, which were dropped from the
train at Ayer and the men were allowed to sleep until 7 o'clock,
when they "turned out" and started their two-mile hike to
And so it was that, very early in the morning, just three
months after it had started with the registration on June 5, the
draft machinery produced at Camp Devens the first recruits of
New England's Division of the National Army. As faithfully
as they had walked into the polling places on registration day
to give their names to the Government, and with no more dis-
play of feeling, the New England boys walked into the canton-
ment and gave themselves to the Government.
It all went on so smoothly, so easily, so quietly, the arrival
of these first few hundred, that it was hard to realize that only
the night before had President Wilson said "Come," and that
this morning the boys had walked out of their homes and said
"W 7 ho met you at the station when you arrived?" some one
asked these young huskies.
"Jack Frost," came the grave reply.
It was impossible to miss a guess as to what part of New
England that cheerful, hearty drawl was raised in.
Soon a lieutenant, looking bright and dapper in his new
uniform, appeared at the station and took the "rookies" in
hand. He was the first representative of the force that was
to control their military destinies that they had seen, and they
regarded him gravely and with interest. At his direction they
fell quickly into line, two by two, and headed for the canton-
ment, led by the officer and a mounted orderly.
"You're in the army now," called an old-fashioned New
Major-General Harry F. Hodges
Commander of the ?6th Division
- S - U ?S
FORGING THE SWORD 17
England housewife from her doorstep, and she waved her
broom at these lads marching by.
"Yes ma'am," answered Maine cheerfully, and continued
on his way whistling.
Not twenty persons saw this long thin line of men plough
its way through a mile of dust and sand to the cantonment
entrance, but there they were greeted with three ringing cheers
from the First Massachusetts Engineers, formerly the First
Corps of Cadets and later the 101st Engineers of the famous
Yankee Division. That was the only organized greeting they
got, and they weren't quite certain whether "rookies" should
cheer back, so they didn't. They just smiled instead, and
their spirits leaped even higher.
Brigadier-General F. D. Evans and Major Rhinelander
Waldo, ex-police commissioner of New York, were in charge
of some 200 officers who handled the registration of the first
recruits. And these were recruits to delight the heart of any
officer with an eye for promising material. For all their
travel-worn, unshaved faces, their unmilitary garb, their
glorious mixture of old suits and old hats, old suit cases and
paper bundles and boxes, there was strength in their bodies
and spirit in their eyes that showed through everything.
Little wooden "box offices" — one for each of the six New
England States and New York State — were set up just inside
the cantonment entrance. Each man bore a card he had
brought with him from his draft board at home. One by one
they gave these cards to an officer and then waited until groups
of eight were ready to be marched away to other buildings
inside the camp.
The Massachusetts quota followed the Maine men early in
the forenoon. Few contingents in this first day's arrivals were
of more than 10 or 12 men. Off to the barracks they went to
be assigned to companies, to see the surgeons, to get their
uniforms and to spend their first day in the ranks of the new
18 FORGING THE SWORD
Shortly following the arrival of the first small detachment of
Massachusetts men came about ioo men from Connecticut.
These were followed by in men from Rhode Island, nicely
squaded together under the command of an ex-service man who
had decided to get in again with the National Army lads. New
Hampshire men were in before dark and they were followed
by the contingent from Vermont, which didn't get in until
after 10 o'clock in the evening.
There was one feature connected with the entry into the
service of these men that didn't prove popular. It was the
tag they wore in their buttonholes. Only about half the men
who came in on the first day arrived with their tags hanging
from their coats. Others had taken them off and either carried
them in their hands or had them tied to their bundles. The
idea of being "tagged like so many prize oxen" didn't set well
on the stomachs of these young huskies and they didn't
hesitate to let it be known.
Much to their gratification these men found that the officer-
enlisted man barrier wasn't anything like what they had
imagined it would be. There were a number of cases during
the first day when "rookies," just arrived, recognized friends
and former classmates among the officers at the receiving
booths. And the officers made the first advances — an out-
stretched hand and hearty smile and greeting. The ' ' rookies
hadn't learned to salute yet, so they just showed their glad-
ness in a manly, friendly way, and the officers were just as
For that's the kind of an army it was. The West Pointers
may have warned the Plattsburgers against fraternization with
the men or they may not. At any rate the Plattsburgers just
used horse sense, and by so doing they got better results than
many of the " Pointers. " It certainly looked like a democratic
army that first day.
And when you start the story of what the first arrivals did
during their first day in camp it is almost necessary to start
FORGING THE SWORD 19
telling the description of the cantonment all over again. It
seemed as though every person in New England wanted to see
it. If they didn't have a friend or a loved one already there
they wanted at least to see how completely American emer-
gency speed measures had tamed more than 10,000 acres of
rough countryside into a military city.
Besides being interested in the cantonment itself, all New
England — and most of all the men who expected to be sent to
Camp Devens — were interested in what was happening to the
recruits who were among the first to go into the service. For,
with very few exceptions, the military life was as so much
Greek to Yankee folks.
In general here is what happened to every one of the 40,000
men who were sent to Camp Devens in the first draft. This
was the program outlined by Colonel Arthur S. Conklin,
commander of the 303d Field Artillery, who acted as com-
mander of the 151st Field Artillery Brigade during the early
days of the cantonment.
The day of his arrival the recruit was met at the Ayer station
by a detail of officers from the camp. It didn't make any
difference whether he came alone or in a large party, the officers
were always there, and it was simple enough to make known
the fact that the cantonment was the destination sought.
' ' What state do you come from ? ' ' was the first question asked
a man by the United States Army. Then, on foot or by motor
truck, the recruit was taken to the cantonment gate.
There he found seven little wooden booths. On each of the
first six was a big sign bearing the name of one of the New
England States and the seventh was labeled New York State.
The recruit picked out his home state box office and presented
his draft card to the officer on duty inside. Immediately the
officer stated which regiment or separate unit the recruit would
be assigned to, and another officer or non-commissioned officer
took the recruit in hand and conducted him to his barracks.
Before he was sent into his barrack building he was shunted
20 FORGING THE SWORD
off to a field ambulance, which was set up in a field nearby,
where a detail of army doctors examined him for evidences of
pink eye, diphtheria, and other things that were not popular
with the army authorities.
Following this superficial examination the recruit entered
the barrack building, which was to be his temporary home, at
least. He proceeded through a room in which half a dozen or
more officers were seated at tables covered with papers. It
was much like going through a large tailoring establishment,
for the recruit was passed from one group to another, each
group taking measurements of his body. This was to find out
what size uniform would be required for the particular recruit
in question, and the ordeal, if such it may be called, took about
After the measuring process the recruit was guided to a
room upstairs. Here it seemed as though the captain in
charge tried to see how many questions he could ask. This
was to determine just what each man's education, trade or pro-
fessional experience, natural adaptabilities and prowess in half
a hundred different lines fitted him for in army life. All the
answers "personal history, " so called — were carefully recorded
Then, if it wasn't time for "chow," as the recruits soon
learned to call their meals, came the business of getting a strong
iron and wire cot and placing it beside the others in the com-
pany dormitory to which the recruit had been assigned. After
that the recruit went to more army doctors in the regimental
infirmary, where a thorough physical examination, inside and
out, was made.
Meanwhile the officers in the "measuring room" had made
out their lists of the uniforms needed right away and big motor
trucks had roared off in the direction of the quartermaster
storehouses, returning very shortly with everything in the line
of clothing that a soldier could possibly require. The few
hundred uniforms and kits drawn the first day didn't even
FORGING THE SWORD 21
amount to a nibble at the vast store Uncle Sam had laid in for
these New England men.
Then came the actual transformation, for which almost every
man had been waiting from the moment he entered the can-
tonment gates. The recruit was handed his uniform, his
underclothing, shoes, socks — everything — and repaired with
his fellows to the latrine at the rear of the barracks. Off came
the old "civies," and every man went under the shower bath,
for bathing was a popular pastime in that National Army of
ours. After the shower the uniform, and these new-made
soldiers stood regarding each other with grins — sometimes
embarrassed, but more often rather proud.
With the donning of the uniform there seemed to come some-
thing more than a physical transformation. Was there a
straightening of those already straight shoulders? Was there
a new brightness in the eye, a squaring of the jaw? There was.
And that was the mental, or, if you prefer it, the spiritual
transformation. For these men the war had begun, and they
were in it; in it up to their eyes and with all the ardor of their
high young spirits and the strength of their vigorous young
That was about all for the first day. They had supper.
Then they hung around the barrack rooms, in some cases re-
ceiving talks from men scarce older than themselves, but men
who had gone through the training mill and were now army
officers. Then to their beds: clean sacks filled with plenty of
fresh, clean straw, and warm army blankets.
At midnight of September 5, 1917, there were 510 New Eng-
land men in the National Army cantonment at Ayer, the first
five per cent of New England's first contribution to the war-
time armies of America.
And before they slept that night most of them had obeyed
the first order that was issued from that mysterious place
known as Division Headquarters, up on the hill at the far end
of the camp. That order was a brief one. Its wording was,
22 FORGING THE SWORD
It is of interest to note some of the first men to reach Camp
Devens and report for duty. As has already been written
Ernest Glenwood of Perry, Maine, was the first of all the New
Englanders to report. Hazen Hoar of Calais was the second
Maine man. John B. Murphy of Fitchburg was the first
Massachusetts man to come in, and Herbert G. Frolander of
Providence was the first man to report from "Little Rhody."
The records do not show who came first from Connecticut,
New Hampshire or Vermont.
These lads were not thrown into camp on one day and then
taken out the next, given a gun and ordered to "dig into it."
Speed was essential, but the military authorities well knew
that a short time was necessary in order for the men to get
acclimated, so it was ordered that the actual training should
not begin until the sixth day.
But while they did not receive any actual military instruc-
tion, many of the things that every good soldier must know
were taught them on their second day in camp. After break-
fast, which was at 6: 30— and there were many of those first
men to arrive in camp who would have hooted the idea of even
getting up at that hour before they jumped into the army —
they were shown how to " police up " their quarters, to arrange
their effects neatly and in a uniform manner. Then they
started tidying up the area surrounding their barracks. From
9: 30 until 1 1 : 30 they were taken on walking tours around the
cantonment, and after a few of these the most of them felt that
they were beginning to know something about the physical
characteristics of the place. At noon they had dinner and
then, until 3 o'clock, they spent their time fixing up their
equipment. From 3 to 4 they took another walk for exercise
and instruction. These walks did much to "harden them up, "
though many of the "rookies" only realized it later.
At 4 in the afternoon they were advised to become ac-
quainted with the shower baths again, for — and it was im-
pressed upon them again — bathing was to be a habit as well
FORGING THE SWORD 23
at a sanitary duty. At 5: 30 they had supper, and in the
evening more letters home, more talks by officers and more
"getting acquainted" with their "buddies." Taps and bed
time came at 10 o'clock. The program for the next few days
differed from this but slightly, and by that time the men were
" jes' r'arin' t' go, " and real military drill and the school of the
soldier looked mighty desirable.
THE 76TH DIVISION IS ORGANIZED
Friday morning, the day after the first New Englanders
arrived in camp, came an announcement from Division Head-
quarters that tickled these new soldiers as nothing had since
they got into the army. And it pleased the home folks just
as much. Men from the same localities throughout New Eng-
land were to be placed in the same outfits, insofar as it was
possible, and on the heels of this information came the table of
organization for the 76th National Army Division.
As the table of organization was announced, the name of each
unit was followed by the names of the places from which the
men making up each outfit would be selected. The table read
301st Infantry — which later became known as Boston's Own
Regiment: Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett,
302d Infantry — also an all-Massachusetts outfit: Milton,
Rockland, East Bridgewater, Plymouth, North Attleboro,
Braintree, North Easton, Fairhaven, Sagamore, New Bed-
ford, Fall River, Taunton, Norwood, Franklin, Framingham,
303d Infantry: Eastern New York State.
304th Infantry: Connecticut.
301st Field Artillery — another all-Massachusetts unit: Ar-
lington, Belmont, Concord, Melrose, Stoneham, Peabody,
Waltham, Somerville, Maiden, Medford, Lynn, Salem, Marble-
Batteries A, B and C, 302d Field Artillery: Vermont.
Batteries D, E and F, 302d Field Artillery: Connecticut.
Batteries A, B and C, 303d (Heavy) Field Artillery : Maine.
Colonel Frank Tompkins
Colonel Charles C. Smith
Colonel J. F. Preston
Colonel J. S. Herron
Colonel G. jM. Brooke
joist Field Artillery
Photo by Bachrach, Boston
Colonel A. S. Conklin
303d Field Artillery
Colonel F. A. Pope
Colonel H. P. Perry
• - T3
Lt.-Col. Merch Stewart Lt.-Col. Massee Lt.-Col. Croft
Maj. Wainwright Chap. Geo. O'Coxor Maj. Hodges
Maj. Musgrave Maj. Weiscopf Capt. Harrower
FORGING THE SWORD 25
Batteries D, E and F, 303d (Heavy) Field Artillery: New
301st Trench Mortar Battery: Connecticut.
301st Machine Gun Battalion: Connecticut.
302d Machine Gun Battalion — all-Massachusetts outfit:
Gloucester, Ipswich, Newburyport, Tewksbury, Haverhill.
303d Machine Gun Battalion: Connecticut.
301st Engineers: Rhode Island.
301st Field Signal Battalion: Largely from Lawrence,
Massachusetts, with some college men placed in certain com-
301st Supply Train: Brockton and Fitchburg, Massachu-
301st Engineer Train: Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
301st Ammunition Train: Worcester, Maynard, Hudson,
Milford (all Massachusetts).
Headquarters Train and Military Police: Gardner, South-
bridge, Leominster (all Massachusetts).
Headquarters Troop: Lowell, Massachusetts.
1st Battalion, 151st Depot Brigade: New York State.
2d and 3d Battalions, 151st Depot Brigade: Connecticut.
4th, 5th and 6th Battalions, 151st Depot Brigade: North
Adams, Adams, Lee, Deerfield, Northampton, Westfield, Wil-
braham, Northfield, Ware, Brookfield, Winchendon, Spring-
field, Chicopee, Pittsfield, Holyoke (all Massachusetts).
Later it was necessary to make a few changes in this table,
but for the most part that is how the first outfit to be trained
at Camp Devens lined up as regards localities. And this ar-
rangement added much to the spirit of the men. They were,
for the most part, among their own folks — the boys they knew
and had grown up with. It helped a lot.
Commanding Infantry Brigades of this new Division were
Brigadier-General F. H. Allbright, commander of the 151st
Infantry Brigade, which was composed of the 301st and 302d
Regiments of Infantry and the 302d Machine Gun Battalion,
26 FORGING THE SWORD
and Brigadier-General F. D. Evans, commander of the I52d
Infantry Brigade, which included the 303d and 304th Regi-
ments of Infantry and the 303d Machine Gun Battalion.
Colonel Frank Tompkins, who was wounded while chasing
Villa into Mexico, and who prior to that had been military in-
structor at Norwich University, was given command of the
Boston Regiment, the 301st Infantry. He had as second in
command Lieutenant-Colonel Percy W. Arnold, who was later
killed in France.
The 302d Infantry was commanded by Colonel C. C. Smith,
and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles A. Romeyn was second in
Colonel J. F. Preston was given command of the 303d
Infantry, and Lieutenant-Colonel G. W. Stuart was his
Colonel J. S. Herron commanded the Connecticut Regiment
— the 304th Infantry — and as his lieutenant-colonel he had
W. G. Doane.
The 151st Artillery Brigade was given to Brigadier-General
William S. McNair, who was later to become a major-general
when he got to France. In his brigade he had the 301st Field
Artillery, commanded by Colonel George M. Brooke, with
Lieutenant-Colonel N. B. Rehkopf next in command; the
302d Field Artillery, commanded by Colonel Daniel F. Craig,
with Lieutenant-Colonel Robert M. Danford as second, and
the 303d Field Artillery — the "heavies" — commanded by
Colonel Arthur S. Conklin, with Lieutenant-Colonel F. W.
Stopford second. The 301st Engineers were commanded by
Colonel F. A. Pope and F. B. Downing was lieutenant-colonel.
Colonel George H. Estes commanded the Headquarters Train
and Military Police.
The 151st Depot Brigade, which was something new for most
of us, and as to the duties of which we were not very clear, was
commanded by Brigadier-General William W T eigel, who also
became a major-general after reaching France, where he com-
FORGING THE SWORD 27
manded a division of his own. We found out soon after the
Depot Brigade was organized that its function was to train
men and have them in readiness to fill up the ranks of the divi-
sion when those ranks became depleted in battle. This put as
much enthusiasm into the men assigned to the Depot Brigade
as to the men of the division proper, and strangely enough
many of the Depot Brigade men got to France weeks ahead
of the men in the division.
From September 5 on, men continued to arrive almost every
day. On the night of September 6 there were about 1 ,000 New
England men in camp. The state of Maine men, who were the
first to arrive, had learned how to salute; just about everybody
had attended a free movie show in the Y. M. C. A. building,
and many of the messes had made the acquaintance of the army
baked bean. So things were apparently running smoothly.
Day by day this army continued to grow. On Saturday
night, September 8, it was stated that there were 2,018 men
safely in camp, and the first reports of the doctors who gave
these men their real physical examinations showed that, for the
most part, the men selected by the local draft boards for active
service were a husky, healthy lot. There were some cases of
colossal stupidity or laziness or ignorance, but they were the
exceptions. From some of the Boston draft boards came men
who were actually cripples. One man had only one hand and
some of the fingers were missing on that. Another man had
only one eye, and one chap was so near death from heart
disease that the doctors ordered that he be rushed back to his
home as quickly as possible.
When one draft board responsible for sending these men
away from their jobs and their homes was asked for an explana-
tion they stated that they "thought we wanted an army and
surely something could be found for these men to do. " It was
explained to them that we wanted an army, but it must be an
army of fighting men, not of invalids, and so after a while
the boards found that they were only making more work for
28 FORGING THE SWORD
themselves by sending such men, as others had to be sent
afterward to replace those found unfit.
These men who were unfit did not begin to show up until
larger portions of the quota were called, for out of the first
1,500 men to be sent to camp only six were found unfit for
But any one who saw the crowd of visitors at Devens that
first Sunday would have thought that at least an Army Corps
must have been in camp there. Though there were only a
little more than 2,000 men in camp it was estimated that the
visitors exceeded 60,000. There was no way of telling just
how many people came, of course, but the guards at the main
entrance declared that over 20,000 automobiles passed through
the gates and then passed out again.
New England had turned out in force to see her sons. Among
the vast throng were many who had dear ones at the camp
already, but there were thousands more who didn't know a
soul in the whole vast expanse of the cantonment, though many
expected to have men of their own blood there before long.
From early morning until late afternoon they came, from every
corner of New England and eastern New York State; they
came by train, by automobile and by trolley.
Even the advance guard of this multitude, however, missed
one of the most impressive sights New England had ever seen.
It happened just after dawn. Several hundred American
doughboys — for such our men became as soon as they donned
Uncle Sam's uniform — knelt reverently in the dew and listened
to early Mass by Reverend Father Thomas McGinn of St.
Mary's Church in Ayer. Father McGinn later became post
chaplain of the camp, but on that Sunday morning he was just
a priest without any army connection.
And from this came a "first message" that echoed the true
spirit of New England, for he told them that they should have
but one thought in their hearts and souls: to do their duty to
FORGING THE SWORD 29
" No matter how hard the orders of the officers may seem, "
said this gentle clergyman, "gaze upon the Cross and gaze upon
the flag, and carry the orders out. You have given up the
avocations of peace; you have left them for the service of a
soldier. Let your constant thought be of 'My Jesus and my
And besides seeing the camp, the thousands of visitors who
came there that first Sunday wanted to find out just what the
"rookies" thought of the army. They didn't know whether
the men's mail was subject to the critical eye of a censor before
it left the cantonment or not. We were very green about
military matters during those first days. And it was quite
droll to see a serious-looking civilian edge cautiously up to an
obviously green recruit and ask, "What do you really think of
Of course there were some complaints, but those who had
been agreeably surprised more than offset the number who
would not have been satisfied with anything.
"I wouldn't leave this blinkety-blanked, cross-dashed army
for money now," declared one healthy-looking specimen from
New Haven, Connecticut. It was hard to make some people
believe that anybody actually said that, but he truly did, and
furthermore he appeared to mean it.
His enthusiasm was one extreme, of course, just as the reply
of a Dorchester, Massachusetts, boy showed the other extreme:
"How is it going?"
"Well, you know how it is; I don't have to say anything."
The remarks betwixt and between were the ones that told
the true temper of these new soldiers. Like this one from a
Providence, Rhode Island, youngster, who was still clad in
blue serge trousers, though the remainder of his apparel was
regulation. A newspaper man shot the usual, "How is it
going?"athim. He turned and smiled, "Going! It 'scorning
— fast!" and he went chasing away after it, happy as a fresh-
man dazed with new surroundings.
30 FORGING THE SWORD
And it was on this busy Sunday that a detachment of men
from New Hampshire, headed by F. N. Beckwith, mayor
of the city of Dover, arrived. The fact that this mayor had
scorned to accept the exemption from service he might easily
have had indicates pretty accurately the spirit of these men.
With Mayor Beckwith were five other New Hampshire men —
Maurice E. Hale, J. E. McCarthy and H. V. Clark, all of
Dover also; H. W. Robbins of Somersworth, and Alfred E.
Lemire of Rochester, were the other two.
Many of the men from Boston and other cities and towns
near the cantonment, who had already spent two and three
days in the army, were granted their first army "leave," and
went to their homes for the day, and with what these men
told the home folks about the big camp at Ayer and what the
thousands of visitors saw for themselves, Devens became
pretty well known to us almost in a flash, and we began to
appreciate something of what was going on almost at our
The plan announced when the first recruits began to arrive,
to the effect that actual military instruction would not be begun
until the sixth day, was not rigidly adhered to, as much because
the men themselves "wouldn't stand for the delay" as for any
other reason. On the Monday following the first visitors' day
(September 9), the New England men started their military
Calisthenic exercises in the early morning, exercises that sent
the blood leaping through those fine young bodies, got them all
on edge, and that very morning they asked to be taught "some-
thing about this game as long as we're here." So, beginning
at the very bottom, they did start. It was only marching, in
platoons and squads, for there weren't enough in each company
barracks to allow for even a skeletonized company formation,
but it was a start, and the men appreciated it.
On Monday, too, 24 instructors arrived from the School of
Artillery Fire at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and they started right in
FORGING THE SWORD 31
with the men who had been assigned to the artillery regiments.
These instructors made the men feel that they were really get-
ting down to business.
And so it looked to those who were only observing what was
going on. For, though the thought of France was far away
from the minds of most of the new men, up at Division Head-
quarters there were indications that officers were looking
into the future. Lieutenant W. W. Cowgill, aide-de-camp to
General Hodges, the division commander, was given a very
significant duty to perform in addition to his others. He had
huge maps of the many and various European war theaters,
marked with every last detail of the country along the front.
The positions of the various armies were also indicated
minutely with colored pins. And each day the changes in the
positions, as reported officially from the War Department,
were marked out again and these changes studied long and
carefully. Some day, perhaps, this skeleton of a big fighting
machine would be "grown up," and would be holding a posi-
tion on one of those fronts. And when that day came the
machine was going to be ready.
"IN THE ARMY NOW!"
September ii, just six days after the first of these new sol-
diers had arrived at camp, is aday which none of them will ever
forget. They had received farewells and many admonitions
from their own folks at home. They had read of how Presi-
dent Wilson marched at the head of the first detachment of
National Army men to leave the city of Washington for the
training camps, and they had likewise read the President's
message to the men of our Nation, when they started out for
this new adventure. But, on September 1 1 , the New England
men in Camp Devens saw for the first time officially and most
of them for the first time actually, the man who commanded
them and under whose command they were to go to France.
He was Major-General Harry F. Hodges.
And with General Hodges, on this occasion, was Governor
Samuel W. McCall of Massachusetts. The governor of the
Bay State had come to Devens to say a few words, not only to
Massachusetts men, but to the men of all the New England
States, and to give them personally the greetings of that
The occasion of Governor McCall's visit was also the first
for the gathering together of the New England men who had
come into the cantonment, and, while there were only about
2,200 of them in all, to the amateur it seemed men enough for a
whole army. Semicircled in a little slice of what was later the
main parade field, ankle and knee deep in stubble and bushes,
with the workmen's rough shacks for a foreground and the
barren barracks rising on Infantry Hill as a background, these
lads stood for more than an hour, before the little line of
FORGING THE SWORD 33
automobiles bearing the governor and the general and their
respective staffs arrived at 5: 15.
Standing there in the fading daylight, scarce more than half
of them fully clad in the uniform of the country for which they
were offering their all, these men heard the Chief Executive of
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tell them that they
represented "the physical prime of the normal American, the
hopes and the aspirations and the ideals of America," phrasing
just what their own officers and the visitors to the camp had
been thinking ever since the magnitude of the task before the
country hit them full in the heart with its beginning the week
Almost before the line of motor vehicles had stopped, how-
ever, Major-General Hodges, who was riding with Governor
McCall, was on his feet in the tonneau of their machine. His
first verbal greeting to his men was brief. Looking at this
little group with pride he said:
Men of the 76th Division, you are having the first military experience in
your history on the soil of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Old
Bay State. You are honored today by the presence of the Chief Executive
of that Commonwealth, who has come to bid you welcome.
That was all he said. The men received his brief message
as soldiers; in silence, but they were gratified, nevertheless,
even to have seen this man who was to lead them through the
primary stages of their military experience and to know at
least what he looked like.
Governor McCall's message to them was not so brief, and it
was of such a nature as to "warm them all up inside" and
make them feel that their own folks were really behind them.
Said the governor:
I welcome you most heartily to this state. I welcome you as the advance
guard of the new National Army. I congratulate you upon being under
the command of General Hodges, your chief instructor, a man who has been
a professor at our Military Academy at West Point and has himself grad-
uated from that institution, a man who has won distinction and high honors
through regular grades of promotion to major-general of the army.
34 FORGING THE SWORD
We are taking different methods, this year, of raising our armies than
have been taken from the beginning of our Republic. Instead of appealing
for enlistments the Government makes the selection. The country calls
you to come to her help. Never before in this country nor in this world
has a more democratic army resulted than this National Army will be.
You represent the ideal of America, and we cannot say more for any army.
I don't desire to use the word "class," for we have no classes in demo-
cratic America. We have abolished the hyphen. You may have your
origin in some foreign country in Europe, but, despite that, you represent
our Republic and you represent the American people as a whole.
Men, I feel sure you will continue to represent them and, if called upon
to act, will remember the history of this country and make your actions
worthy of it.
Then the governor sat down. The men hadn't cheered
General Hodges, but they began to applaud the governor
before he stopped speaking and by their applause they showed
that the sentiments he had expressed were their sentiments
and that they would see to it that all he had spoken of was
accomplished. Immediately following the governor's speech,
the men were marched off the field, and the men from Maine
and New Hampshire had what, in most instances, was their
first glimpse of the governor of the state in which they were
receiving their military training.
These men were really getting down to brass tacks by now.
Their preliminary training, or what should more properly be
called the ' ' hardening up ' ' process, was progressing rapidly, and
at the end of their first week at Camp Devens most of the men
felt as though they had been in the army for months.
And they were beginning to realize that, although they were
away from their home and loved ones, people still cared a great
deal about them and their welfare. They had the Y. M. C. A.
and other welfare organizations with them always, and then
the regimental funds were started. It was the 301st Infantry
that first announced the formation of a regimental fund, and
it was accomplished through the efforts of Major Edward
(Pete) Bowditch, he of Harvard football fame. Major Bow-
ditch announced within a week of the opening of the camp that
FORGING THE SWORD 35
a friend of his had already advanced the sum of $8,000 as a
starter on the regimental fund, and that the fund would start
to grow on that.
These regimental funds and what they were to be used for
were little known to the men at this time, but later they were
to be much better known and appreciated, for they grew into
thousands and thousands of dollars, and many a man had
things in the army that he could not possibly have had had it
not been for the regimental and company funds.
On the day following the visit of Governor McCall, Governor
Henry W. Keyes of New Hampshire made his appearance,
coming to see the men of the Granite State who were already
in the army. Governor Keyes, who was a crew man in his
Harvard days, was accompanied by his two brothers, George
T. and Charles W. Keyes. He went straight to Division
Headquarters, where he told General Hodges and the news-
paper men that his state had in view steps to be taken for the
welfare of New Hampshire boys in the 76th Division, adding
that New Hampshire would do as much for her men as any
other state would do for hers.
Soon after their arrival these New England youngsters, who
were so willing to offer their lives for their country, got a dis-
tinct shock. Orders came through from the War Department,
when only five per cent of New England's first quota was in
camp, that a special company was to be formed in the 151st
Depot Brigade to house the conscientious objectors drafted
into the service. This word immediately started a hunt among
the men, by the men themselves, for these objectors who were
not willing to fight for democracy.
In the first five per cent not an objector was found, and the
vanguard of the division began to prepare for any of the "yellow
bellies" who might later make their appearance. And if any
of these individuals could have heard the "midnight opera"
that followed the orders to prepare for their coming, they might
well have had a change of heart. In deep guttural tones would
36 FORGING THE SWORD
come the query from one end of the darkened bunk room:
"What will clean our bayonets in the morning?" "Bloo-o-o-
d-d-d!" would come the chorus in tones just as deep and
ominous. But as a matter of fact none of them had bayonets
yet, and when the "C. O.'s" did begin to arrive no blood
By this time the drafted men were standing their own guards,
and they found it an occupation none too well to their liking,
though of course they performed their duties in the most con-
scientious manner. Some extremely ludicrous situations arose
during the first few nights when the National Army men were
on guard, of course, and, though most of them have been told
again and again, one or two may bear retelling here.
A member of General Hodges' personal staff strolled down
through the camp about midnight on one of the first nights
drafted men had been posted. He was looking for material
for a report to the division commander on how the men were
picking up their duties. Near Headquarters he saw the form
of a sentry through the darkness, and just to make sure that
the man would see him in plenty of time to challenge, he
coughed loudly. But the man paid him not the slightest bit
of attention. So the officer strolled slowly up to him and made
as if to go by. Right opposite the man he turned quickly and
"Well, have you anything to say to me?"
"Gosh, yes," rejoined the "rookie." "I'd speak to any-
body. I've been out here in the dark nigh on to two hours an'
I ain't seen a soul."
The man didn't mean to be careless. He simply didn't under-
stand and, while he showed one extreme, the other was shown by
the over-eager youngster who was walking his post about 9: 30
the following night. The colonel of his regiment was taking
his wife and daughter to their hotel outside the camp, when
suddenly a "Halt! Who goes there?" rang out. The women
jumped, but the colonel, quite pleased, replied : " Colonel Blank,
FORGING THE SWORD 37
with wife and daughter. " But the guard's reply nearly lifted
the colonel out of his long riding boots. "Advance Colonel
Blank and be recognized. Wife and daughter mark time. "
The officers were patient and helpful, for the most part.
Those who were not seldom held their jobs as commanders of
men for very long. W 7 hen they were found unfit to guide and
instruct these boys who were entirely green at the military
game they were shunted to other jobs where they could be
used without ruining the material that New England had given
For the most part the National Army lads liked their officers
and the officers liked the men. The West Point officers, es-
pecially the younger ones, learned almost as much from the
Plattsburg officers as the Plattsburgers did from the Regulars.
For these provisional officers had the personal touch that went
so far in making America's emergency sword the keen, strong
blade it proved to be.
The officers were good fellows in more ways than one, as
these 2,200 Yankee lads admitted less than ten days after
their arrival in camp. For the officers at Camp Devens at
that time dug down into their own pockets to the tune of $5,000
to start one of the biggest ventures of its kind ever attempted
in the American Army. It was the Devens officers' share of a
$50,000 fund to establish a chain of vaudeville and motion
picture shows in the camp for the benefit of the men themselves,
in that the profits from the 10- and 15-cent admissions that
would be charged were to go to the regimental funds of every
unit in the division. Major Reginald Barlow of the 302d In-
fantry, a well-known New York actor in civil life, started the
project, which met with hearty approval throughout the camp.
Even in those early days of the cantonment, however, the
men were well provided with entertainment, for the Redpath
Lyceum Bureau, with the permission of the War Department,
opened up a big tent show in the little gully at the foot of In-
fantry Hill, and there, seven nights a week, the New England
38 FORGING THE SWORD
soldiers could find up-to-date entertainment for about one
fifth of what it would cost them in the city. Besides this the
Y. M. C. A. had a movie show almost every night, and various
societies and companies were coming to camp several times a
week to provide entertainment for the boys.
Many things were planned, of course, that never were real-
ized, but the spirit that started the planning to do for these
boys was what counted. The spirit manifested by the folks at
home was admirable, but there was plenty of it in the army,
too. For instance, quite a chunk of it was found right in the
Regimental Headquarters of the 301st Infantry, the Boston
Regiment, when Colonel Frank Tompkins took out his own
check book and wrote out a check to provide two Ford motor
trucks for his regiment, solely so his men could get their uni-
forms and other supplies more quickly than by waiting their
turn at the big army trucks. That spirit was what built up
the fighting spirit in the men.
"When we seen the 'old man' do that for us, we just felt that
it was up to us to do a little somethin' for the army ourselves, "
was the way one "rookie" put it.
September 15 was one of the happiest days at Camp Devens,
at least for the few men who were there. And it might be
added that there were many days that were far from sad. But
it was on that day that the New England men already stationed
at the cantonment received their first big war weapons.
About 4:30 in the afternoon Colonel Arthur S. Conklin,
commander of the 303d Heavy Field Artillery, received word
from the quartermaster that a train had just pulled into the
Camp Devens siding with some guns for his regiment. Like a
flash the word went down the line, and with yells of glee just
about every man then in the regiment made a rush toward
Headquarters. They were all anxious for a sight of the war
weapons, and most of them wanted to share in the honor of
unloading the first artillery to arrive at the camp.
But, as it was later proven in this new army of ours, there
FORGING THE SWORD 39
was always some particular man who was best fitted for any
job that might put in its appearance at camp, and this time it
was William F. Cronin of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who
was called upon. He had been with the Barnum and Bailey
Circus and was used to unloading ponderous equipment
" Can you get those guns off for us? " he was asked.
"Sure," smiled he, "if you'll give me men enough. "
There was no difficulty about that. Every man in the
regiment wanted to have a hand in the work, supper or no
supper. So about a hundred of them started in the direction
of the quartermaster's tracks, and there, looking rather omi-
nous to them, were four three-inch field pieces, a complete
battery of field guns, lying on four fiat cars.
There were fully a hundred men in the party that helped get
those guns off the cars. They will tell you all about it. It was
"the thrill that comes once in a life time." Under Cronin's
direction runners were placed against the cars. The pieces
were unlashed and swung around. Then it was a yell of " Let
'er go, Gallagher," and down they rolled, the gleeful "rookies"
clinging to the tongue of the caisson, and away they went with
them up through the cantonment to the Headquarters Com-
pany of the 303d, where the pieces were lined up for the awed
inspection of the rest of the camp.
And on the same day the comparatively few members of the
301st Infantry — Boston's Own Regiment — were feeling pretty
chirky, too. For they had gone through their first inspection
by a general, Brigadier-General F. H. Allbright. Their officers
were a little nervous, too, but when it was all over everybody
was happy, including the general. For, although he was a
Regular Army officer and accustomed to inspecting trained
soldiers, he had used such words as "vim and snap," and
"eagerness and willingness" in describing the showing of these
soldiers of less than ten days, and it meant a lot to them.
But the biggest task so far was approaching. The "first
40 FORGING THE SWORD
forty per cent" was due to arrive at Camp Devens on Septem-
ber 19 — or at least the first part of that contingent was due on
that date — some 20,000 men, a multitude compared to the
number that had already arrived, and the transportation of
these men as well as the caring for them as fast as they arrived
was a problem that was taking much of the attention of the
According to the schedule announced three days before these
men were due to start, the men from Maine, New Hampshire
and Rhode Island were to come in on the 19th, more than 5,000
of them in all. On the 20th 4,390 men from Connecticut were
to come. Massachusetts, exclusive of Boston, was to send
6,021 on the third day, and on the fourth day northern New
York State was to send 2,330. On the fifth day the city of
Boston was to send 2,029, and then the movement would be
This plan of transporting the men was drawn up by the
American Railway Association and approved by the military
authorities. The governor of each of the states involved also
placed the seal of his approval on the plan, and so arrangements
for the reception of these men were made on that basis. And
the men already at camp — the first five per cent — were called
upon to help get ready to receive their friends, which duty they
performed with a will.
Almost simultaneously came the announcement of the plans
for the placing in the division of the men who were to come.
The policy started on the arrival of the first five per cent was
to be pursued right through the draft, according to the indica-
tions, and men from the same localities were to be placed in
the same or adjacent organizations.
For Massachusetts, in the first forty per cent, the following
arrangement of the men was announced:
Men from To the
Adams Depot Brigade
Arlington 301st Artillery
FORGING THE SWORD
302d Machine Gun Battalion
302d Machine Gun Battalion
302d Machine Gun Battalion
301st Field Signal Battalion
FORGING THE SWORD
302d Machine Gun Battalion
302d Machine Gun Battalion
While, of course, these were not the only towns and cities in
Massachusetts to send men to Devens in the first forty per cent,
they marked the centers from which the men were to come,
and the men from the cities and towns surrounding these
places were sent to the same organizations. As has often been
stated, it was this arrangement of grouping men from the same
localities in the same or adjacent units that went far in main-
taining the morale at the beginning of our part in the war at
the high scale it attained.
As this program for sending men by the thousands unfolded,
some of the older and more experienced officers began to have
their doubts as to how the thousands were to be housed, large
as the cantonment was. But the War Department provided
FORGING THE SWORD 43
for all that. For before the arrival of the 20,000 men during
the five days, September 19 to 24, came the announcement
from Washington that another $1,000,000 was to be spent at
Camp Devens on additional barracks. And those who had
already seen the cantonment gasped, while those who had not
seen it began to do some wondering about what kind of a place
this could be, where $1 ,000,000 could be spent so easily. They
had other gasps coming to them, however, for still more millions
were to be spent before Devens was what it afterwards became.
Through it all these veterans of ten days were preparing for
the coming thousands. They had already learned to speak of
the coming forty per cent as " rookies, " but it is not on record
that any of these ten-day soldiers had gone quite so far as to
term themselves "veterans. " Their preparations consisted of
cleaning up barracks that were as yet unoccupied. The offi-
cers had been busy among their men instilling into .them the
belief that theirs was the best regiment in the division, a verbal
food which the "veterans" digested joyously and with a gusto.
And then came a bombshell. Not literally, of course, but
to some of the men it might almost as well have been. On
September 18 orders came from Washington to transfer 500
of the comparatively few men at Devens to other regiments
already formed at Massachusetts and other New England
camps. These "rookies" were going to fill gaps in various
regiments of Edwards' 26th (Yankee) Division, which was just
about ready to go overseas.
Some Massachusetts men went to Boxford, others to Fram-
ingham and still others to Westfield; Maine, New Hampshire
and Vermont men went to Westfield; Connecticut men went
back to their home state, to Camp Yale at New Haven. The
orders came through to each regiment to have their men ready
in an hour and a half. Five minutes later it was changed so
that they were to have their men ready in an hour. And so
they hustled. The men were to be seen all over the canton-
ment, pouring out of their barracks, some in full uniform, some
44 FORGING THE SWORD
in half military and half civilian clothes and many still clad
completely in "civies. "
Frantically they gathered their belongings together and as
soon as the last man from each company was ready they went
straggling along the six rough roads that led to Post Office
Square, in the center of the camp. From there they proceeded
to the quartermaster tracks and boarded trains.
It would be equally untrue to say that they were happy or
that they were sad. Some were pleased and some weren't.
There was the spice of adventure about their sudden move-
ment, and nearly every one of them knew in his heart that he
was headed for an early trip across the Atlantic. The Connect-
icut men were frankly pleased that they were "going back to
God's country," but many a man was sad that he was not
going to be on hand to greet the thousands who were due to
arrive on the morrow.
These were the first troops to leave Camp Devens, just
thirteen days after their arrival. Before the "buddies" they
left behind had really earned the right to call themselves
soldiers, this little group of 500 men had landed with the
Yankee Division on foreign soil, and today some of them are
sleeping there, having paid the full price of patriotism.
"THE FIRST FORTY PER CENT"
The coming of the first forty per cent of the first New
England quota to Camp Devens was the most inspiring sight
of the early days of America's part in the war. There was
no secrecy connected with the event. It was one of the few
things that we were all warned about and given an opportunity
And we were not the only ones to watch it, for, just as the
first thousands were reaching the cantonment at which they
were to receive their military training, through the long lines
of husky youngsters stretching from the cantonment gate
clear down the road toward Ayer as far as the eye could
see, a foreign potentate, a visitor to the United States from
the Orient, was carried into Camp Devens. And so the
coming of the "first forty per cent" to Devens served as some-
thing of a promise to one of our Allies.
Viscount Ishii, head of the visiting mission from Japan, was
in New England on an official visit, and no visit to New Eng-
land during the war could be called in any measure complete
without a sight of the New England National Army canton-
ment, one of the finest and biggest in the country.
Riding with Major-General Hodges, the cantonment com-
mander, and personally attended by Ambassador Sata, the
Japanese representative at Washington, the head of the
Japanese mission watched with amazement how quickly and
quietly and happily and smoothly this never-ending stream
of young men flowed into the military service in answer to
the call of democracy. In the automobile with Viscount
Ishii and General Hodges was Mayor James M. Curley of
46 FORGING THE SWORD
With eager interest the Japanese nobleman questioned
General Hodges about the cantonment and the system of
inducting the men into the service. Their activities of the
past few days had somewhat worn out the visitors, but this
sight of thousands of young giants arriving to throw themselves
into the fight revived them, and their expressions of surprise
and pleasure were good to hear. With General Hodges they
made a tour of the cantonment, noting every detail of the
huge machine that so soon was to turn out the best fighting
men in the world, and before they left they congratulated their
soldier host on the marvelous things that were being accom-
plished. The picture of New England that they carried away
with them was the picture of a country militant, a country
burning with patriotism and of men filled with a resolve to do
their duty with every atom of energy and strength that filled
their strong young bodies.
On September 19 there were 2,127 men due to come into
camp. They were the quotas from Maine, Rhode Island,
Vermont and part of New Hampshire. Because of the
distance they had to travel, few got in before noon. It was
not until 3 o'clock in the afternoon that they really began to
arrive, but then they came fast.
Vermont was the first in on this day — 420 lean, husky lads
of pure old New England stock, the very best kind of soldiers
we had. They went through the "receiving mill" in the
smoothest manner imaginable and were assigned to the 302d
Field Artillery. The first detachment came from Bennington
County, 57 of them, headed by Benjamin D. Cleveland of
Manchester, an old 5th Massachusetts Militia man. Each
group of men had some member of the group in charge.
Usually this leader was appointed either by the draft board or
the men themselves before they left their home towns.
New Hampshire was the next. There were only 97 men in
this group, but they came in with spirit enough for 10,000.
A few of them were from Berlin, and they bore signs announ-
FORGING THE SWORD 47
cing what they were going to do when they reached a certain
other Berlin that was rather well known. These signs the
men carried — there were few contingents to arrive without
them — furnished one of the most interesting sidelights in the
whole interesting spectacle.
These lads had received the greatest send-off in the history
of the country. They had been banqueted and showered with
gifts, extolled and praised and glorified and sent away on the
crest of a wave of enthusiasm and patriotism that did not
diminish for days. The New Hampshire and Maine and
Vermont men showed that as soon as they arrived, and the
same was true of the Rhode Islanders, who arrived later in the
day. The Maine men, 727 strong, all decorated with various
kinds of badges and streamers and armbands, travelled on
special cars. They were seven hours late reaching Ayer, but
that didn't matter to them. Better late than never was their
attitude, and they marched happily away to the 303d Heavy
Artillery, there to join the New Hampshire men.
Rhode Island came in with a rush; 884 men destined for the
301st Engineers. They were headed by James L. Doherty,
a former policeman. Each man wore a white armband
bearing the letters "N. A." in red.
They were swallowed by Camp Devens just as swiftly as
were their predecessors. It was incredible — the smoothness
with which the receiving machinery worked. It almost
seemed that there was no limit to the number of men that
could be handled by these few officers and the clerks in the
seven little booths on the receiving field.
The Manchester, New Hampshire, delegation came by
automobile, 35 machines stretching out into a sizeable column.
They didn't arrive until the morning of September 20. They
were accompanied by Mayor Spaulding of Manchester, and
their cars were loaded down with gifts from their friends and
relatives who had watched the procession start off.
A few more men from Maine continued to straggle in on the
48 FORGING THE SWORD
20th, and among them was Vladek Cyganiewiez, better known
to sport lovers as Zbyszko, heavy weight wrestler of world-
wide reputation. Soon after his arrival, however, his six feet
and 232 pounds of brawn and muscle was pushing a broom
in his company barracks. Such was life in this army of
The Connecticut men came on the 20th, 4,000 of them.
And the first 1,000 got a taste of what seemed to be real war
weather, for they arrived in pouring rain and had to march
about a mile and a quarter through mud and water that might
well have rivaled the famous Flanders mud. They were
assigned to the 304th Infantry, the 301st and 302d Machine
Gun Battalions and to the 302d Field Artillery.
Massachusetts' thousands began to arrive at 9 o'clock on
the morning of September 21. The first to reach Devens
came in automobiles. They came from the nearby towns of
Leominster, Clinton and Lancaster. Then came the men
from Arlington and Winchester, headed by Chief of Police
Urquhart of Arlington. In the Winchester quota was
Herbert W. Kelley, famous Harvard quarter-miler, a gunny-
sack slung over his shoulder, his shirt open at the throat.
Then came 427 men from Fall River and 291 from New
Bedford. They had brought brass bands with them, and
from their appearance the bandmen had been working ever
since they left their respective cities. As soon as these men
had passed through the receiving booths, they fell in behind
their bands and were played up through the camp to their
barracks to the tune of "Where Do We Go from Here?"
That was the spirit of the men. Too much can't be said
about that quality. They knew that this was only the first
stop on the new adventure they had undertaken. They wanted
action and they wanted it quick. The camp was filling up
fast and, with all this pep and snap and ginger just bubbling
out of its occupants, something was due to happen pretty
(killed in France)
Photo by Sarony
Chap. Edwin A. Flynn
'Chow!" It Didn't Taste so Bad After a Day Spent as Below
For the Boys Even Had to Break Out Their Own Roads in Winter
Maj. Barlow Maj. Homer Gage
Capt. Fcannell Chap. M. J. L^^'CH Capt. E. C. Edwards
Sgt. F. \. Beckwith Chap. T. F. Lynch Sgt. " Bill " Cunningham
FORGING THE SWORD 49
It is impossible, of course, to set down just how each indi-
vidual city or town quota came in. It was all about the same,
the biggest holiday event in the lives of the men who were
entering the service, to all appearances. Everybody was
wondering at it and at the lack of friction that marked the
mobilization of New England. Nothing but the best of good
nature, accompanied by the heartiest co-operation from the
men themselves, was to be seen.
Mayor Foss of Fitchburg led in more than 50 men from his
city at 11:15, an d almost simultaneously there arrived hun-
dreds from Worcester, Lowell and Lawrence.
Mayor Ben Haines of Medford came in proudly with 28
men. He only should have brought 20, but he declared that
eight others insisted on coming at once and they threatened to
walk if Mayor Haines wouldn't bring them along. So he did,
and they were accepted and allowed to stay. And they called
that drafting an army !
Framingham came in shortly after 1, to be followed imme-
diately by the Waltham quota, in charge of Elliott Frost, well-
known captain of a Yale crew. Cambridge and Somerville
came in on the same train and at the cantonment entrance
they were met by Lieutenant Brennan, who knew personally
many of the men and who was greeted by them as "Jim."
And so it went; something extremely interesting about the
arrival of each contingent. From all parts of New England
long railroad trains were rushing, bearing their human freight
to Camp Devens, where that freight was shortly to be trans-
formed into a formidable fighting machine. But they came
gaily, the sides of the railroad cars bearing chalked challenges
to the Kaiser and his brood, and their hearts filled with the
desire to be of service.
Massachusetts, having much shorter distances to be covered,
came in so fast that sometimes there were as many as 1,500
men massed together on the receiving field. But they didn't
have very long to wait, as a rule, before they were hustled off
50 FORGING THE SWORD
to the regimental area to which they had been assigned, there
to be greeted by the "veterans" of two weeks and to be wel-
comed into the fold of the family that was known as the 76th
The delegation from Tewksbury, Methuen, Chelmsford and
Dracut rather lifted the receiving officers, used as they were
by now to the unexpected, off their feet. Led by Captain
Peter F. Graham of Methuen, a Massachusetts State Guard
officer, 71 men from these four towns marched onto the receiv-
ing field in column of fours, in good military step, snapped into
"company front," right dressed and stood rigidly at attention
while their papers were being gone over by the receiving
officers. Then, very gravely, they broke into a column again
and marched away to their barracks. And General Hodges,
standing on the sidelines, watched it all with a gleam in his
eye that could not by the worst cynic be construed as anything
but sheer delight.
There was only one feature of the arrival of these men that
in any way approached the semblance of a farewell. Seventy
Lexington, Belmont and Watertown men had been addressed
that morning on Lexington Green by Governor McCall.
Then they came to camp, accompanied by Judge A. P. Stone,
James H. Vahey and other prominent men. As they left the
automobiles and started for the receiving booths, the judge
and his associates went down the line shaking every man by
the hand and wishing him good luck and bon voyage on his
trip to Berlin.
Saturday, the 22d, saw more men coming in and some going
out. The men coming in were from New York State, 2,300 of
them, and those going out from New Hampshire, Rhode
Island and Connecticut, 25 from each state. These were sent
to Boxford, there to become members of the 26th Division,
instead of the 76th as they had expected. Their going caused
considerable excitement in camp, as it began to look to many
as though immediate overseas service was in store for most of
FORGING THE SWORD 51
the men who came in. These 75 men went out to their new
duties clad in civilian clothes, with the exception of a few here
and there who had parts of the regulation uniform.
And General Hodges saw them go, too, and he hated to lose
them. He felt that he didn't want to lose sight of a single
one of these young men who were so rapidly pouring in,
offering themselves to him to be turned into soldiers. Talking
to newspaper men the general declared all these things and
added that he was greatly pleased at the generous manner in
which New England was prepared to look after them.
Sunday, the 23d, was one of the biggest days in the history
of the camp up to that time. Not only because the Boston
men were coming in nearly 1,600 strong on that day, but
because 100,000 visitors were there to see for themselves how
the men of New England were mobilizing for war service.
And so, on this Sunday afternoon, more than 1,500 city lads
arrived, shouting, singing, cheering, attended by relatives and
friends and by just about every small boy in the vicinity of
Ayer village. Along roads that were black with automobiles
and pedestrians they came, crowding their way through to get
into the army. They knew that they were all destined for
the same regiment, Boston's Own — the 301st Infantry — and
they were excited and happy about it. Also, they were
anxious for a sight of the man who was to command them,
Colonel Frank Tompkins.
They knew something about him before they ever thought
of getting into the army. They had heard of how this dash-
ing cavalry officer had run Pancho Villa all over Mexico and
how he had been wounded during the chase across that hell of
burning desert sands. He was their hero before they ever saw
him, and he remained so until the end of the war, in which he
was to be badly gassed by the Germans.
And Colonel Tompkins was watching these men who
were to be his come into camp. He sat on the top of a
big boulder and saw them piling into the barracks that had
52 FORGING THE SWORD
been set aside for the 301st Infantry. And he smiled as he
"Lord, but Boston ought to be proud of these boys," he
said; "and she will be, too, or I'll miss a guess."
Western Massachusetts sent in men that Sunday, too, and
they all went to the Depot Brigade. More men went out on
the same day, bound for the country from which the up-state
men had come. Two hundred of them went to Westfield,
Massachusetts, to fill up the ranks of the 104th Infantry.
They had been in camp only a matter of hours, but all but 34
of them went away in uniform. That's how fast things were
beginning to move at Camp Devens.
There were now approximately 20,600 men in camp, a size-
able group on which to begin work. Of these only about 2,000
were Regulars. The rest were green, as regards military
matters. But on Monday morning steps were taken toward
the elimination of the verdant hue. Training was started.
The officers began teaching the men how to march and in this
way they combined the preliminary training with the harden-
The "rookies" liked it, too. They sang as they marched
and they were positively hoggish for information and detailed
instruction. They were eating like horses, too, some of them
getting better chow and more of it than they had ever had
before in all their lives, and they started to fill out and get
husky and brown and healthy.
Just the daily consumption of food was a staggering item
for people who were unused to operations on such a large scale.
Each day these men were consuming, among other things, the
Flour 21,375 pounds
Beef 16,638 pounds
Bacon 4,270 pounds
Baking powder 95 pounds
Baked beans 1 ,425 pounds
Rice 1 ,450 pounds
FORGING THE SWORD 53
Potatoes ii ,450 pounds
Onions 4.250 pounds
Tomatoes 1,184 pounds
Prunes 500 pounds
Jam 1 ,000 pounds
Coffee 1,500 pounds
Butter 2,000 pounds
Milk 700 quarts
And yet this huge daily consumption didn't even make a
visible impression on the vast store that was kept on hand.
Colonel Dalton, the division quartermaster, announced that
they could send the men to Devens just as fast as they pleased,
so far as the food for them was concerned, as he proposed to
keep one full week's supply of all commodities for 43,000 men
ahead at all times. And he did it, and the boys grew fat and
hard and husky.
The arrival of the first 20,000 was followed by a settling
down process. Courses of training were mapped out in detail
by unit commanders, and the young officers started to learn
bayonet fighting under the tutelage of Major Reginald Barlow,
then of the 302d Infantry, but previously of the British Army,
with which he fought in South Africa during the Boer War.
The sorting out of the men began, too, for it was not the
purpose of this army to try to fit square pegs into round holes,
and if a man was in the infantry when better fitted for the
artillery the authorities wanted to know about it. They found
out, too, and shifted the men around, never losing sight of the
fact that men were to be kept, in so far as it was possible, in
outfits made up of men from their own particular corner of
New England. In this sorting-out process each man was
questioned individually regarding his previous experience in
every line of work, and with the full history of the man before
them the officers decided where he could render the most
A spirit of competition was started among the various outfits
soon after the arrival of the "first forty per cent." Brigadier-
General F. H. Allbright, commander of the 151st Infantry
Brigade, held an inspection one morning of the men who had so
far been assigned to him. It was a nervous morning for the
men and officers both, but they came through it in admirable
style. The general looked over each man individually. And
then — he complimented them! And they were the happiest
young animals to be found in fourteen counties.
The brigade was then put through its paces, company by
company, and when it was all over Company E, of the 301st
FORGING THE SWORD 55
Infantry, was adjudged the best outfit insofar as that morn-
ing's work was concerned. That was what started the com-
petition, and the men of other companies settled down to work
like beavers to wrest from Company E the "title," as they
were pleased to term it. It was fast music after that, and the
"title" passed from company to company so fast that before
long it was impossible to tell which was really entitled to it or
whether any individual outfit was.
After he had watched that brigade of his working out for
a while General Allbright one day calmly announced that
these men were shaping up so well that he was convinced that
they would "be as good as Regulars" when they were fully
trained. Coming from a Regular Army man this meant much.
On the last day of September the first schools were started in
the 76th Division, by order of General Hodges. There were
only six of them, each school specializing in some branch of the
military service. Later there were to be almost ten times as
many, but for a starter they established a school for officers in
equitation, a school for stable sergeants, another in hippology
and veterinary medicine, one for horseshoers and others for
cobblers and saddlers. Lieutenant-Colonel N. B. Rehkopf of
the 301st Field Artillery was placed in charge of the schools,
with Major F. B. Edwards as assistant.
The month of October saw the 76th Division really getting
down to business. Rejections began to mount up, too, neces-
sitating that other men be sent from civilian life to replace
the men who were discarded. There was much criticism of the
draft boards in general, some of it unjust and some of it not.
It was inevitable that in any undertaking of this magnitude
mistakes should occur and also that some parts of such a
ponderous machine as the Selective Service system should
function with too much zeal and not enough discretion.
It is to the everlasting credit of New England, however, that
by far the greater part of the men sent to camp by the draft
boards were just the kind of material the army wanted —
56 THE FORGING SWORD
strong, sturdy, clean, upstanding youngsters, full of patriotism
and fight and eager to learn and go across as quickly as possible.
There have been many events at Camp Devens that created
excitement and pleasure and surprise. There was always
something unusual going on. But few of these startling events
equaled the advent of the first band to be formed by the
National Army men, pitifully small and squeaky as it was
compared with the magnificent musical organizations that
The first band to be formed at Camp Devens was composed
of fifes and drums, played by the men of the 151st Depot
Brigade. There were only seventeen pieces in the whole
aggregation, but they played loudly and proudly enough to
have been a combination of the best efforts of John Philip
Sousa and Arthur Pryor. Their instruments had been sup-
plied by the Depot Brigade officers, who dug down into their
own pockets to get them.
Any member of that band can tell you when it made its first
public appearance. It was on October 2, and when it came out
in all its glory, the fact that a very pretty race had been going
on " underground " became known also. Shrilling and thump-
ing one of the three numbers the members knew, the band
marched through the camp. Everything was serene until they
came to the barracks of the 301st Infantry.
Then there was commotion and excitement, much of it.
The Boston men nearly went crazy. They hooted and howled
at the sweating, shrilling, pounding Depot Brigaders. They
jeered and yelled and raised blazes generally, because — well, the
301st were just about ready themselves to produce the "First
National Army Band at Camp Devens," and the disappoint-
ment was too much for them.
But utterly oblivious to the torrent of the sarcasm hurled at
them, the wailing, whistling fifers and the rumpety-tumping
drummers pursued their triumphant way until they reached
Division Headquarters, where they apparently got their second
FORGING THE SWORD 57
wind and nearly demoralized the entire Headquarters staff,
which came out of the Headquarters building in one grand
rush to see this miracle. And General Hodges listened, too;
and he smiled with pleasure. For his men were " really getting
It was just a week later that the Boston Regiment's band ap-
peared. And, despite the fact that they were running second
in the musical race, their appearance caused even more excite-
ment than the Depot Brigade filers had. For they came out
with the first semblance of a real military brass band with the
courage to toot its way through the regimental streets of Camp
Devens. And they had nearly thirty pieces, instead of less
There were several famous musicians in the 301st Infantry,
the most noted being Albert Stoessel, formerly of the St. Louis
Symphony Orchestra. Under the tutelage of these artists the
band had been built up and trained to a point where they dared
show themselves together in the day time. The first duty they
set for themselves was to serenade their beloved colonel, Frank
Tompkins. It was supposed to be a surprise party, too, and
certainly the colonel appeared to be surprised when he went
out to greet the musicians, after they had offered their best
efforts in front of Regimental Headquarters.
Sergeant Jesse Illingworth, an old time soldier, had been
elected leader, and he was the proudest man in all New England
when Colonel Tompkins took him by the hand and con-
gratulated him. The colonel spoke words of praise to the
men, also, and then, in that way of his that the men all came
to love, he grinned and waved his hand in the direction of
"Come on, men," he said. "Let's go up and serenade the
general; let's show him some real music."
And up to Headquarters they went, countermarched like
veterans in front of the Headquarters offices, and while Colonel
Tompkins went inside to get General Hodges they played as
58 FORGING THE SWORD
they had never played before, with every breath and effort
there was in them. If the memory of the writer serves him
correctly, "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" was one
of the very few pieces they knew, but they didn't play it on
When they thought the general had had enough they
stopped. The "old man" went down and spoke to them and
then returned to Headquarters, where he shook hands with
Colonel Tompkins and said a few words to him.
"He says, Tt's the best band he ever heard,' " announced
Colonel Tompkins to the newspaper men as he started after his
band, and as he said it the happy colonel grinned with pleasure.
During the first week in October the "second forty per cent"
of New England's first offering to the National Army arrived.
When they had passed through the receiving machine there
were more than 37,000 men in camp, and the War Department
started them on the regular course of training that had been
mapped out by the general staff.
The training schedule provided seven hours' work a day
for the men, and, with the exception of hours spent on night
marches, and in night trench work, in the various trench sys-
tems that were built throughout the cantonment, this plan of
work was adhered to while troops trained at Camp Devens.
The War Department ordered that one hour each day
should be spent in calisthenics. For the most part this work
was done in the early morning. The 301st Ammunition Train
evolved a scheme to make "Kelly's Thenics" a more popular
form of diversion, however, for the band assembled in front
of the Train Headquarters each morning, and after consider-
able drill the men learned to go through their exercises in per-
fect time to the music. It was almost like dancing, and it
made one of the prettiest sights of the camp, and thousands of
people came to Devens early in the morning for the sole pur-
pose of watching the 301st Ammunition Train.
Three hours a day, during the first week, were allotted tg
FORGING THE SWORD 59
infantry drill, one hour for preliminary training for target
practice, one-half hour for conferences, one-half hour for in-
struction in guard duty, one-half hour for instruction in the
care of the rifle and one-half hour for inspections.
But, besides all these forms of actual military training pre-
scribed by the War Department, there were so many other
activities that the days were mighty full. The second Liberty
Loan had started and Colonel E. K. Massee, division judge
advocate, had been appointed Liberty Loan officer for the
entire camp. He set the quota for the 76th Division at
$1,000,000. It was his idea that these righting youngsters
could show the rest of New England that they were not only
willing to give their time and risk their lives for Uncle Sam, but
were also ready and eager to lend to him a goodly percentage of
the comparatively meager amount the Government allowed
No sooner had Colonel Massee's purpose been announced
than the entire division fell into step and set themselves to
making good the colonel's promise. It fell to Sergeant-Major
William Augustine Flaherty of the Boston Regiment to buy the
first Liberty Bond sold to a New England doughboy at Camp
Devens. Bill had been an actor, playing under the name of
William Augustine. His home was at 30 Houston Avenue,
Milton, Massachusetts. Later he was sent to France to report
for duty at Pershing's Headquarters and there he won his
commission and was transferred to the Yankee Division.
Devens did not neglect sports. Lieutenant W. W. Cowgill,
at that time General Hodges' only aide-de-camp, was made
division athletic officer, and set to work to hunt out the football
material. He found it, scads of it. Both among the com-
missioned officers and the men were stars from almost every
college in the country. His project won their immediate sup-
port. The Camp Devens football team began to shape up and
the spirit spread among the various regiments until foot-
balls and baseballs were flying every spare minute.
60 FORGING THE SWORD
Another phase of the training, that at first caused some
people to laugh a little, was the singing classes. One day a
man called Vernon Stiles, a concert singer, appeared at Head-
quarters, presented his credentials and announced that he had
been sent by the War Department Commission on Training
Camp Activities to teach the soldiers at Camp Devens how to
sing. Some of the old and more hardened army officers looked
a little bit astonished and allowed privately that they didn't
envy Mr. Stiles his job. It didn't phase the singer a bit,
however, and after the first few weeks some of the skeptics had
the shivers running up and down their backs when they heard
thousands of doughboys roaring out the most inspiring war
music any nation ever heard.
There is little question now that the teaching of our fighting
men to sing was one of the greatest morale builders that was
produced during the World War. It has been an army adage
that "A singing army is a fighting army." That is true.
If you don't believe it, ask the Germans. For ours was a
Then, just as these thousands of New Englanders were
getting into the swing of it and had set out to make theirs the
best division in the whole United States Army, the hard luck
that followed the 76th Division throughout its career began to
One day General Bliss, chief of staff, sent word from Wash-
ington that the Camp Devens "surplus men" were to go to
Georgia to fill up National Guard divisions in the South.
Nobody knew at that time just who were our "surplus men,"
as there were fifteen per cent of the first draft still to come to
It developed, however, that the negro troops were to be
placed in separate divisions, and because of the large colored
population of the South many southern white divisions had
great gaps in their ranks. Division Headquarters at Devens
was all broken up over the anouncement, but orders must be
FORGING THE SWORD 61
obeyed and the men were sent. In the meantime there wasn't
a man in camp who wasn't worrying about it and hoping that,
somehow or other, he would be allowed to stay with the 76th.
The work was getting all-fired interesting and they were just
beginning to know each other and to know their officers.
Bayonet training had begun and they were learning how to fire
their rifles even before they had learned how to march and drill.
In some cases men were actually practicing going over the top
in the trenches that had been constructed in various corners of
the camp. And every battalion in camp had started taking
long daily hikes of five to eight miles. Tramping through the
crisp New England air, over a gorgeous autumn countryside,
with a hot meal at noon prepared in their own "slum guns,"
wasn't such awful hard medicine to take, after all. Then,
too, all kinds of nice things were to be had at Camp Devens,
and one never knew what would be found at other camps.
The main building of the Knights of Columbus was officially
opened at Camp Devens on October 12. State Deputy Daniel
J. Gallagher, assistant district attorney of Suffolk County
(Massachusetts) came up and delivered an oration, and the
K. of C. turned the building over to the men for their use.
It had in it pool tables and victrolas and player pianos and
books and magazines and a dance floor and almost every kind
of recreational apparatus known to man, and the men could
use all at any time they chose. There was also a big boxing
night in the building once a week, as well as many other forms
of entertainment, and everything was free of charge. It wasn't
much wonder that the men didn't care about leaving Devens.
Something of a surprise came early in October when volun-
teers for immediate overseas service were called for. It
happened that the men required were highly skilled mechanics
and men with other special training, but in some companies,
just as a test, it was announced that volunteers for immediate
service at the front were wanted at once. Almost invariably
the entire command stepped forward. The men selected were
62 FORGING THE SWORD
sent away in groups of one hundred or a little over, and they
went so suddenly that they scarcely had time to say goodbye to
their own "buddies," let alone to their families. From this
time on the men continued to go out of Camp Devens, destined
for the most part for overseas, so constantly that it was im-
possible to keep track of them. In some cases men were in
France less than a month from the day they were inducted into
the service. Frank Sibley, in his story of the Yankee Division,
has told of some of these men who landed with the Y. D., and
of the spirit — though without the training — with which they
went into the fight.
THE SECRETARY OF WAR COMES TO CAMP
There were none prouder in the whole 76th Division on the
13th of October than the men of the 1520! Infantry Brigade.
This was the first brigade to get together in a single formation
at Camp Devens, and the parade and review was "pulled" so
quietly that scarcely anybody outside of Brigade Headquarters
knew what was happening until it was all over.
Early in the morning of the 13th General Evans, the brigade
commander, rode out into the fall sunshine and found two regi-
ments, almost up to full strength, and a machine gun battalion,
fully equipped, lined up in perfect formation. They were the
303d and the 304th Infantry Regiments and the 303d Machine
Gun Battalion. The regimental band of the 301st Infantry was
on hand also and this band played the whole I52d Brigade by
its general when they passed in review.
The effect of the review was twofold. It showed the military
authorities how swiftly the men were coming along, and it
made the men realize how rapidly they were being developed
into a real fighting organization. It had the effect of raising
their morale even higher and of giving them a pride in them-
selves and in the organizations to which they belonged that
could be obtained in no other way.
It was about this time, too, that stories began to circulate
through New England regarding Camp Devens. No one
could possibly believe that these stories emanated from the
men who were in the service there, for even the inevitable
soreheads would not stoop to tell such deliberate lies. Typical
of these stories was one which alleged that four men had been
brought to camp under arrest and had been immediately taken
out and shot. It sounds foolish now, but there were hundreds,
64 FORGING THE SWORD
yes, thousands of people who were worried by this particular
yarn and Division Headquarters was swamped with telephone
calls, telegrams and letters.
At any rate, delegations from various states began to arrive
at camp to look their men over. Of course they found them
happy, contented and well cared for. Investigations as to
the sources of these stories were made and it was finally
decided — (not by any people with the spy mania, either) —
that they had been started by enemy agents, which was prob-
ably true, whether the alleged agents were in the pay of the
Hun Government or not.
Impetus was added to the training of the troops when the
announcement was made at Division Headquarters that an
Officers' Training School was to be started at camp early in
January. One man out of every ten in camp would be selected
to train for a commission. Everybody had a chance. It was
up to the men themselves to show that they were fitted to hold
a commission and the best of the division would be selected.
If the men thought they had been exerting their best efforts up
to this time it appeared that they were sadly mistaken, for
they started to dig into the dirt with their toes as they never
This new-fangled wrinkle in raising Democracy's Army was
followed immediately by another just as new but which caused
a great deal more astonishment. They had measured the
bodies of these men as they came into the service. They had
measured them for their uniforms and also for a record of their
stature and some idea of what kind of work they would be best
fitted for. Now they began to measure their brains, and some
of the more old fashioned among us snorted with disdain.
But, snorts or no snorts, that's what they did just the same.
A quiet young man wearing the uniform of a lieutenant ap-
peared one day and declared that he was a psychologist, sent
by the Great Father in Washington to measure the brains of
the New England soldiers, make a record of them and forward
Battery E, 302D Field Artillery, Visits Boston
Some of the 302D Infantry Show Home Folks What Real
Photo by International Film Service, In* .
The Gas Defense School. Read's fob the Cloi d of Chlorini
That ls Coming
The Hostess House
The Camp also Boasted Its Own Theatre, The Liberty
FORGING THE SWORD 65
a copy of the record to Washington. It was one of the most
successful experiments ever attempted in the American Army.
He was Lieutenant W. S. Foster, formerly of Cornell Univer-
sity, and soon he had a staff of "nut pickers," working under
him there at Devens, that was kept busy for months.
There were two different tests, one for officers and one for
men, with another for men who were unable either to read or
write. Everybody had to take it and everybody was marked
under a set of rules laid down by the department at Washing-
ton that had charge of the work. Nobody was supposed to
know what he made at the "nut" tests, but it became known
soon after they were started that some of the officers had
fallen down miserably, while some of the more stupid appearing
of the enlisted men had made a brilliant finish.
Taken all in all, however, the "nut tests," when compared
with practical results afterwards, showed that the men and
officers both did just about what the psychological tests showed
might be expected of them, and a man's mark in his psycho-
logical examination soon began to count for something when
promotion time came. If an officer failed too miserably he
was investigated further and an effort was made to find out
what, if anything, was the matter with him.
No one was better able to judge the value of all these new
methods of training and classification than an old and success-
ful soldier, and one of our most successful ones came to Camp
Devens, soon after the New England men had hit their stride,
to look them over. He was Lieutenant-General S. M. B.
Young, U. S. A. (retired), one of the only three living lieuten-
ant-generals in the whole United States Army. He was a
veteran of every war since '6i, and he knew a thing or two
about the army and the training of troops.
General Young made a tour of the cantonment and was
shown what the men were doing. He had been sent by the
War Department, by the way. He had lots of nice things to
say about Devens and about the men, but, what was more im-
66 FORGING THE SWORD
portant, he said that what he had seen of our army as it pre-
pared for service in the World War was almost the realization
of the fondest dreams he had always had for the preparation of
the army of the United States. He drew a word picture of the
difference between the way our army used to get recruits for
war service — when the recruits came in groups of 10 and 20 —
and the way they came in now — by the thousands. The
general sighed a little as he made the comparisons.
Finally, when the first "rookies" to arrive at camp had been
in the service about six weeks, came what everybody had been
waiting for and what most of the men had pictured their train-
ing as consisting of: a real trench attack and a sham battle.
On October 23, Captain George Hoban's Company H of the
304th Infantry was sent into the trenches with the warning
that it was to be attacked. Captain William E. Davidson's
Company E of the same regiment was told that the enemy
was holding a series of trenches and that he was to be
driven out. The men had been trained to some extent in the
most approved methods of trench warfare, but this was their
first actual experience against living, breathing, yelling, eager,
flesh-and-blood antagonists, even though they were their own
"buddies." A whistle blew — and then the fun began.
Charging like madmen, most of them forgetting what they
had been told about how they were to advance, Company E
set sail for the "enemy." As the first advancing doughboy
appeared there was a terrific clicking of rifle bolts all up and
down the trenches, but of course there was no ammunition,
and Company H became indignant.
"How in hell are we goin' to stop 'em when we ain't got no
"Lay down, you ox! Don't you know you're dead? I've
bored you clean through the pantry four times now."
"Dead? Why you half-blind she-mule, where do you get
that stuff? We've got yuh so scared yuh can't even pull your
FORGING THE SWORD 67
"Can that stuff. I've hit you an' you're dead and you
"You're a liar. You're the one that's dead. My bayonet's
stuck in your wishbone right now — or it would be if I had one."
"Whadyamean dead, you big fourflusher," etc.
And so it went. Few remember now which company was
adjudged the winner, and few care — now. But whichever one
it was, the other company was the winner the next time. For
that's the way it was arranged. But what everybody does
remember is that the spirit exhibited by the men on that aus-
picious occasion augured well for what was to be expected of
them when the real thing came.
October 23 will stand out in the mind of every man who was
at Camp Devens on that day for still another reason. That
was the day on which the first steam was turned on, one of the
most welcome events in the whole history of the cantonment.
For it must be admitted that some of the men had been none
too comfortable o' nights. The weather had been nippy and
of course with so many men sleeping in one room it was neces-
sary to have all the windows open. The result was, well —
chilly, unless one was fortunate enough to have some extra
bedclothing besides the three blankets issued by the army.
Most of them had extras, but they were happy to see the steam,
or rather to feel it, and thereafter they were as comfortable as
it is possible for human beings to be.
Secretary of War Newton D. Baker paid a surprise visit to
camp that fall too, and, incidentally, it was the only visit he
made to Devens during the whole period of the war. He
arrived one afternoon alone, unattended even by a secretary,
and of course he found the camp in its worst possible state, for
it was raining pitchforks and hammerhandles. Mr. Baker,
however, wasn't bothered a bit by it. He was scarcely there
long enough, for he was hurrying to Manchester, New Hamp-
shire, and had merely stopped at Devens in passing. He went
to Major-General Hodges' headquarters, sat there for about
68 FORGING THE SWORD
half an hour and smoked his pipe, while members of the staff
were called before him and questioned. Then he jumped
into an automobile and hurried away again.
Nobody knew why he came, at least nobody who would say
anything about it, but his visit caused the finest flock of ru-
mors that was ever loosed in an army cantonment — Devens was
to be closed as it was too cold to train men there during a New
England winter and all the men were to be sent South for their
training. The division was going overseas at once and com-
plete its training there. Any suggestion made by any per-
son as to why the secretary of war had visited Camp Devens
flew from lip to lip with the swiftness of a prairie fire. But
nothing happened and the training went on just the same.
Something new was happening each day, and one of the
somethings that happened early in the game was the beginning
of gas training. Opposite the Base Hospital two little build-
ings had been erected without anybody paying much attention
to them — at first. But before they were ready to go across
every man in the division, from the commanding general down,
knew both little houses and knew them well. They also knew
the trenches and dugouts that were dug just outside the houses.
This was the Gas Defense School, through which every
officer and man had to pass as a part of his training. One
house was devoted to the lachrymating or tear gas, and this
the men entered without any protection. The gas they got
was only about one twentieth as strong as that they were told
to expect from the Germans, but it gagged them and made the
tears flow from their eyes until they were unable to see, and
taught them the smell of the stuff as nothing else could have
taught it to them.
The other house was used for various other kinds of poison-
ous fumes the Huns were using against our men. This house
they entered with their masks on. It was done simply to give
them confidence in their gas masks and to teach them how
necessary they were.
FORGING THE SWORD 69
The trenches surrounding the school were equipped with
dugouts that were supposed to be gas-proof and probably they
were as effective against the gas as any dugouts that could be
constructed. "Classes" of men were placed in these trenches,
distributed along them as they expected to be distributed
along the trenches opposite the Germans later on. Off in
front of them were placed containers filled with chlorine and
other deadly fumes.
Suddenly, and without warning, the gas was released. In
clouds it arose and was carried toward the trenches filled with
men. Lookouts in the trenches sounded the warning, masks
were quickly adjusted and the men allowed the gas to sweep
over them. Some of them were ordered to the dugouts, and
there in those little holes in the earth they learned to fight this
silent death, with fires, with fans and with beaters and spades
with which they literally shoveled the yellow poison from their
retreat. It was about the most realistic piece of training they
received on this side of the water, and later many of them were
thankful for it.
Right in the middle of this training, which seemed to grow
more interesting every day, the orders, forecast by the an-
nouncement of General Bliss a few days before, that the
"surplus men" from Camp Devens were to be sent to the
South, came through. Eight thousand men were called for
and, of course, 8,000 were sent. They went to Camp Gordon
at Chamblee, Georgia. There was not a unit in the 76th
Division that didn't lose some men. They were the cream of
New England. The blow was one of the hardest the 76th
Division received. And it received many.
Folks began to be more interested than ever in what their
men were doing as the reports of their activities went into thou-
sands of homes through the newspapers and through the letters
of the men themselves. They began to wonder whether all
these strange things were making much of a change in their
boys, and the throngs of visitors grew larger than ever.
70 FORGING THE SWORD
Toward the last of October, on the 25th to be exact, Gov-
ernor R. Livingston Beeckman of Rhode Island came up to
see the men from his state. Like the live wires they were, they
staged a regimental review of the 301st Engineers, the outfit
from Little Rhody, for the governor and his party. It was
the first regimental review "pulled" in camp and they went
through it like veterans.
Standing beside Colonel Pope, commander of the regiment,
Governor Beeckman watched the men swing by, and as each
company passed his amazement grew.
"Can these be the men I saw parading through the streets
of Providence only four or five weeks ago?" he asked. "How
has this thing been done?"
And still they continued to pass, splashing through the mud
caused by the recent rain, until every man had gone by. Then
Governor Beeckman spoke to them. He was just about to
leave for a visit to the battlefronts of Europe and he told
them that they had given him a wonderful message to carry
to the boys over there, a message that he would not fail to
Governor Keyes of New Hampshire paid a flying visit to
camp on the same day. He was on his way to Washington,
but he found time to look in on the men from New Hampshire
and tell them that every man, woman and child in the Granite
State was behind them, heart, soul and body. Governor
Keyes was accompanied by Adjutant-General C. W. Howard,
Major E. W. French and Major G. W. Morrill.
On the following day, the Boston Regiment received visitors.
Headed by Mayor James M. Curley, the City Fathers and
nearly one hundred other visitors came to Devens to see the
boys from Boston. The regiment was brought out and put
through its paces. It was on that occasion that the men of
the 301st Infantry were addressed collectively by their colonel,
Frank Tompkins, for the first time. It was a message that
none of them who are still alive will ever forget, for it was the
FORGING THE SWORD 71
talk of one fighting man to a large group of men of his own
"I want you men to know that I consider you have deliv-
ered the goods," said Colonel Tompkins. "I know you will
continue your splendid work until the end and after. I expect
you Boston men to write your mark deep in the breast of the
And they did it, too; but not as the 301st Infantry.
Mayor Curley spoke, and when he had finished the flag of
the city of Boston was presented to the regiment. It was
received by Color Sergeant James H. Connolley, who had
formerly been a Brookline policeman. It was taken to France
and is now safely back in Boston.
OFF DUTY AND ON
Late in October came word from overseas that America had
fired her first shot into the Germans. Our artillery was in
position, pounding away at the Boche and some of our troops
were in the line. The word sent an electric shock through the
76th Division, and they "got down to it" as they never had
before. On the same day the Boston Regiment was parading
through the streets of its own city in full equipment, its band
blaring forth the message to the Home folks to dig down into
their pockets and back up the boys by sending the Liberty
Loan over the top and the Kaiser into the swill barrel.
The day following, the first of the foreign officers that had
been promised us arrived. They were veterans of the war and
knew every trick of the trade. They were French, Lieutenant
Drieu de La Rochelle (a Blue Devil), Adjutant Georges
Rennandin, and Sergeants O. Chevallier and Mouilland.
Two days later more of them came, Captain Henri Amann,
for whom Amann Field was named; Lieutenant Thierry J.
Mallet, another Blue Devil, and Lieutenant Paul Perrigord.
Scarcely waiting to unpack their baggage, these veterans
reported themselves to Major-General Hodges, were assigned
to quarters and began to teach the latest thing in fighting to
men who were the most eager to learn that the Frenchmen had
ever encountered. New England had truly hit her stride and
the 76th Division was on its way with all sails set and colors
It was almost impossible to keep track of what was going on
at Camp Devens after that. More than a dozen newspaper
men, who were there to do nothing else but follow the training
of the division, were kept going night and day in an effort to
keep up with events.
FORGING THE SWORD 73
The foreign officers brought from France new sketches of
trenches, as well as all the very latest wrinkles in warfare, and
arrangements were made, through the various military com-
missions in the United States, to keep these new wrinkles
strictly up to date and to keep the new soldiers thoroughly
posted on the ever-changing conditions in the battle zones.
Night attacks were started in November. Real grenades
began to arrive, and Lieutenant Mallet got the training of his
grenade throwers and bombers really started. Parties of men
were to be seen almost every night, after darkness had fallen,
starting away for the various "sectors" in the camp, and soon
afterwards the sky might be lighted like a Christmas tree. A
"fight" was going on somewhere out there.
One very pleasing incident occurred early in November.
Congressman James A. Gallivan paid a visit to camp. This
was a pleasure to the Boston men anyway, as "Jimmy"
Gallivan was popular. But the pleasantest part of it all was
that the Congressman went away declaring that the spirit of
the fighting men from his home state had simply "floored"
him, and the conditions under which they were living and
training were simply fine. The gentleman from Massachu-
setts had come to Camp Devens prepared to see the New
England men suffering all kinds of hardships and discomfort.
He had got the idea from stories he had heard in Boston. His
disappointment pleased him no less than it pleased the men
themselves and the camp officials.
The so-called "welfare organizations" were getting into
their stride by this time. Recreation buildings were springing
up all over the camp and along the road between Ayer and the
cantonment gate and in the town of Ayer itself. The Y. M.
C. A. had huts in every section of the cantonment, with more
than three score secretaries on duty. The Knights of Colum-
bus were firmly planted in the camp and were growing and
spreading rapidly. Boxing, basket-ball, pool, music, bowling,
reading, writing, helpful advice and scores of other good
74 FORGING THE SWORD
things were on tap day and night for the men in uniform.
These folks were really interested in them, and they showed it
after the fashion of real friends.
The Salvation Army had a hut that was really a half-way
station between Ayer and the camp gate, and the "S. A."
despite the handicap of not being inside the cantonment did
some fine work for the men.
In Ayer itself the War Camp Community Service had estab-
lished a Soldiers' Club on West Street. Here the men found
everything that was to be found in the recreation huts within
the camp, with a fine cafeteria where meals could be bought at
And besides these recreation buildings the people of the
town of Ayer have it to their everlasting credit that they did
their utmost for the soldiers. Hundreds and hundreds of
officers and men who served at Camp Devens made lifelong
friendships among the people at Ayer.
It was a very peculiar situation that the town found itself in.
Its normal population before the war was about 2,500. Sud-
denly 40,000 men were dumped into an area just outside the
town. Sixteen times as many men as there were people in the
whole town suddenly moved in. But the little New England
hamlet spread its arms wide and gathered them all in, and the
men enjoyed the sensation.
The local Knights of Columbus rooms were thrown open to
the men and their friends, regardless of color or creed. They
were welcomed and made to feel at home, and the little council
bore the added expense without a murmur.
Thousands of the men found "hang-outs" in Ayer where
they delighted to congregate after their day's training — just
places where they could sit around and smoke and gossip and
josh. It was much like the famous "hang-outs" to be found
in any college town, where generation after generation gathers
during off hours.
Hundreds of men who trained at Camp Devens will remem-
FORGING THE SWORD 75
ber "Tom" Raftery for the rest of their lives. "Tom" was
the manager of A. Shuman & Company's branch store at Ayer.
The Shuman people sent him up from Boston soon after the
camp opened. " Tom " was an old baseball player. He used
to be with the Cleveland Club, and he was one of the best
"mixers" in New England. Always on the job, yet he always
had time to meet and make friends. That was his specialty,
making friends, and once he made them he kept them, to the
benefit of the men themselves and also to his firm's.
Then there was "Joe" Markham's store in Depot Square.
' ' Joe ' ' was an Ayer man . The coming of the camp disarranged
the old order of things for him, but he accepted the new order
philosophically, and his friends are now numbered by the
thousand. It was men like these who did wonders, generally
without realizing it, to keep the morale of the Camp Devens
soldiers high, and they saw American soldiers come and go by
As soon as the camp opened the state of Massachusetts sent
state police to Ayer. The "camp followers" of previous wars
were expected to materialize in this one again. The state
police were to keep the camp clean. And they did. They
really constituted a vice squad, and as the result of their work
Camp Devens was among the cleanest cantonments in the
country. Old army officers spoke of it and wanted to know
how it was accomplished.
Governor McCall selected Inspector Edward P. O'Hallorhan
of the Newton police force to head the squad. He got the city
of Newton to give Mr. O'Hallorhan a leave of absence. Mr.
O'Hallorhan picked his men with care. There were only a few
of them, but they did the work of many. Best known among
the state police at Devens were Lawrence Schofield, James
Devereaux, Frank Hale, Stephen Bresnahan, Edward McCabe
and William Cannon. Kindly, big-hearted men they were,
who believed in tempering justice with mercy, and using lots of
plain horse sense. Many a young girl, who might have been
76 FORGING THE SWORD
sent away to an institution of some kind, was sent back to her
home with a warning that she could hardly forget. These were
the ones who were just foolish. But dozens of others — yes,
hundreds — who came to Camp Devens to prey on the New
England fighting men, went away much faster than they came
and to a place where they would have a chance to think it over
for a few months.
Mrs. Mary A. Sughrue was sent to Ayer by the Common-
wealth to act as police matron, and it was to this motherly,
big-hearted woman that many a foolish young girl owes
"another chance. " She was loved by the whole town and by
every soldier in camp who knew her. To Mr. O'Hallorhan, his
men, and Mrs. Sughrue, working in conjunction with Chief of
Police Patrick J. Beatty of Ayer, belongs the credit of keeping
Camp Devens the most vice-free camp in the country.
The local clergy also took an interest in the men of the camp,
despite the fact that the population of the town almost doubled
soon after the camp opened, making just twice as much work
for them. Father Thomas P. McGinn, pastor of the local
Catholic Church, was made post chaplain by the military
authorities. He had in his parish also Father Thomas J.
Brennan, a young priest with a big heart and a genial smile and
a vast knowledge of young men. These two clergymen placed
themselves at the disposal of the soldiers, and were ready at
any time of the day or night to help in any way they could.
It really was almost like a large family, that town of Ayer
during the war. Everybody was pulling together to make the
soldiers happy and to help them in every way possible. The
results justified the time and trouble.
On November 5 Major Reginald Barlow's theater opened in
the building that had formerly been occupied by the canton-
ment restaurant for workmen. No one who was present will
ever forget the opening night. It was an unqualified success
and a monument to the energy and foresight of Major Barlow,
who recognized the needs of the men.
FORGING THE SWORD 77
Maine men of the first draft won't soon forget the 6th day of
November. Governor Carl Milliken of Maine came to camp
on that day with $1,000 for the mess fund of the 303d Field
Artillery, which was the Maine and New Hampshire Regiment.
Governor Milliken will remember the day, too. He found the
men from his state waiting for him in the Y. M. C. A. audito-
rium. His excellency was almost carried off his feet as he
stepped to the platform. As Governor Milliken entered,
Sergeant "Bill" Cunningham got to his feet.
"Now, men, let it come; all you've got!"
And it came; a screaming whistle from 1,400 lips, a crashing
drumfire of "boom-booms" and three long "Governor Milli-
kens" at the end. It was a most startling procedure. Not a
bit military, you know, and all that sort of thing, but, Lord! it
sounded good to Maine folks.
When the governor recovered from that hair-raising demon-
stration he spoke to the regiment. He told them that the
state of Maine was behind them, heart and soul and pocket-
book. He said that the whole state was proud of the 303d and
that the home folks were relieved when George McL. Presson,
adjutant-general of Maine, had spread the good tidings that
the men were comfortable and happy and not suffering, as had
But these informal proceedings, while all right on such oc-
casions as this, had to be curbed somewhat. A tightening up in
the matter of discipline was ordered. The word was sent out
that these chaps weren't "boys" any more. They were men
now, and as such they would be expected to live up to the full
meaning of the word in the army. And they did.
Lieutenant Perrigord of the 14th Field Artillery, French
Army, opened his school in the handling of the French auto-
matic rifle. Other schools were opened almost every day.
This, together with the tightening up of discipline, meant
business. All day long and sometimes all night the men were
out on the cold New England fields and forests. As winter
78 FORGING THE SWORD
drew on it became known that there was a slight shortage of
overcoats, and there were still 10,920 men of the first draft yet
to come in. But the authorities found ways to keep the men
warm until the overcoats arrived, and the training went on
The first bombing field to be established in America was laid
out at Camp Devens under the direction of Lieutenant Mallet,
the French instructor in that art. It was a sea of shell holes
and torn ground. There didn't seem to be any system to it.
But there was, and day by day the men learned more and
more about that system from behind the concrete wall where
they threw their grenades.
Target practice started for the whole division on November
20. A huge rifle range had been constructed across the main
road between Ayer and Shirley from the camp. It was a cold
day when the first shots were fired, but every man on that
range was just aching to get out to the firing point and cuddle
the butt of his rifle against his cheek and fire his first shot.
General Hodges was down to see how his men would shoot on
the first day and he went back to Headquarters the happiest
man in fourteen counties, for these lads could shoot naturally.
Yes, he was happy despite the fact that each regiment in his
division was shy at least 400 men. For if all the men yet to
come were like these it would be almost no trouble at all to
make soldiers of them.
On November 22 the advance guard of the British instruct-
ors arrived. They came straight from the trenches to co-op-
erate with their brothers-in-arms of the French Army in
whipping the Yankees into shape for service "over there."
They were Captain E. O. Hodson, Rifle Brigade, and Company
Sergeant-Major R. V. Larkin, instructors in machine gunnery;
Captain J. W. Turner and Sergeant A. Lewis, instructors in
gas defense; Captain J. E. L. Warren and Sergeant T. Moyles,
instructors in the trench mortar, and Captain J. E. Hughes
and Sergeant W. A. Ropen, instructors in bayonet fighting.
FORGING THE SWORD 79
In November came the first definite announcement as to
how the men from the various states, who had been inducted
into the service up to that time, had shaped up physically.
From September 5 to November 10, there had been rejected
for physical reasons 4,281 men. Of these 2,008 were from
Massachusetts, 1,012 from Connecticut, 620 from New York,
231 from Rhode Island, 199 from Maine, 130 from New
Hampshire and 81 from Vermont. This, considering the
mistakes that were bound to occur while the draft machinery
was getting under way, was considered a creditable record.
THE 76TH STANDS INSPECTION
There had been many big movements of troops into Camp
Devens up to this time, but the biggest movement out of camp
up to that time came on the day before Thanksgiving, when
20,000 New England soldiers went to their homes to celebrate
the great New England feast day. It seemed as though the
stream of trains that puffed out of Ayer would never end, but
it did, and the lads got home. Besides these who went to
their homes, 1,000 more were dined by families in and around
Ayer; another exhibition of the patriotic spirit of Ayer people.
But those who remained in camp, and there were approxi-
mately 7,000 of them, didn't suffer by any means. The home
folks who were drawing mental pictures of their sons eating
slumgullion at Camp Devens on Thanksgiving day, would
have received a shock could they have looked into the mess
halls at dinner time. These 7,000 men had 15,000 pounds of
turkey cooked for them, with a reserve of 35,000 pounds in
case the first meal should prove insufficient. They had
cranberries, nuts, cake, candy, ice cream, cigars, cigarettes —
everything that an epicure could possibly think of to tickle the
palate and comfort the inner man, comfort him until he rolled
groaning upon his bunk. Pies arrived in camp by the motor
truck load, good old-fashioned New England pies of flaky crust
and generous "innards," so that the only thing that was
missing was the home folks and the faces of loved ones. And
in many cases they were on hand, too, for where it was possible
to do so the home folks didn't bother getting dinner at home.
They came to Camp Devens and had dinner on the Govern-
ment, and Uncle Sam was glad to have them. The dinner
was the big incident of the day, but there were many other
features — dances, shows and concerts galore.
FORGING THE SWORD 81
There is one little incident that deserves mention in this
little story of Camp Devens. It is one of the things that we
like to remember about New England people. One little
woman up in Nashua, New Hampshire, wrote to the command-
ing general asking to have a "lonely soldier" sent to her house
for Thanksgiving dinner. She wrote:
"I don't care who you send me. No matter if they can't
speak English even. If they're good enough to fight for my
home, they're good enough to eat at my table."
It takes all kinds to make a world, of course, and while it is
so much more pleasant to remember only the good and forget
what little of the unpleasant there was, there is another inci-
dent, in direct contrast to the above, that is too rich to be
Another woman, much better supplied with this world's
goods than the little New Hampshire woman, wrote asking
that forty soldiers be sent to her house for dinner. It wasn't
on Thanksgiving day, but it was not so very long afterwards.
In her letter she specified that she did not want any men "of
Hebrew or Irish extraction." No comment on the feelings of
the officer who received the letter is necessary. He sent the
forty men and none of them could be accused of being either
Irish or Hebrew. He sent the woman forty lads from the
sunny Southland — colored soldiers from Florida. No ac-
knowledgment of his favor has been received to date. The
men had a good time, despite the "sudden illness" of the
Just after Thanksgiving the 76th Division temporarily lost
its commander. General Hodges, accompanied by a few of his
personal staff, left quietly one day and was not seen at Camp
Devens for several weeks. They went to France for a tour
of the battle lines. With their departure Brigadier-General
William Weigel, commander of the 151st Depot Brigade, and
later a major-general himself, took command of the camp and
82 FORGING THE SWORD
Soon after General Hodges' departure came the first inspec-
tion of the whole 76th Division. The occasion was the visit
of Assistant Secretary of War Benedict Crowell. A big review
had been planned at first, but on his arrival in Boston, Secre-
tary Crowell talked with Headquarters by telephone, and it
was decided to hold the inspection instead. One battalion of
troops was reviewed, however; the first battalion of the 303d
Infantry, hailing from Schenectady, New York, and vicinity,
and commanded by Major W. H. Neil. Major-General John
L. Chamberlain of the Inspector General's Department ac-
companied Secretary Crowell.
This inspection of the 76th was one of the most peculiar
affairs that Camp Devens had seen up to this time. For the
men were lined along the sides of the roads through the camp,
miles and miles of them. They were cold and uncomfortable,
standing for hours in the slush and snow, waiting until the
secretary had passed them. The inspecting party rode in
twelve automobiles. They drove at the rate of ten or twelve
miles an hour. The entire inspection lasted about an hour.
The one thrill of the day was furnished by Major Reginald
Barlow's battalion of the 302d Infantry. For the benefit of
the secretary, and in order that he might see the men in action,
a specimen of the training that was being carried on by the
authorities was given.
Major Barlow stood at the top of a hill near the post-office.
At the base of the hill in trenches were Companies A and C of
the 302d. These companies were made up of men from Fall
River, and were commanded by Lieutenant Robert Cutler.
At a blast of Major Barlow's whistle two waves of men charged
up the hill, over two lines of trenches, through barbed wire and
shell holes and down the other side, jabbing their bayonets
" Remember, only six inches of steel and don't dirty the hilt,"
warned Major Barlow as his men passed. It was neatly done
and won the praise of the visitors.
FORGING THE SWORD 83
And Company A of the 301st Infantry had its barracks in-
spected, an unpopular event, even when the inspection is by
your own officers. But Mess Sergeant William F. Norton of
East Boston found out somehow that General Chamberlain
likes fresh shoulder with lots of fat on it, and so the shoulder
was there to be inspected. After it was over and the sighs of
relief had been drawn and drawn again, it was agreed that the
secretary and the general "look at every last thing and don't
say much." They sampled some things, too.
General Weigel then asked : "Where do we go now?" "That
bakery smelled awfully good," smiled Secretary Crowell, but
the party went to the general's house for lunch.
During his visit Secretary Baker's representative saw some
of the difficulties of training a division at Camp Devens in
winter, but he didn't see them all, for the weather was "sloppy"
while he was there. Ice and slippery roads and grounds, cou-
pled with bitter New England winter weather, made the lot of
the doughboy a hard one. Sometimes it was more than 30
degrees below zero, and at least one fatality was due to the ice.
While drilling one day Alfiero Olivelli of 21 Salem Street,
Boston, a member of Company M, 301st Infantry, slipped and
fell on the ice, striking his head and receiving injuries which
resulted in his death a few hours later. On the same day,
Herman F. Wood of Fall River narrowly missed death when the
man in front of him slipped and his rifle struck Wood on the
head, rendering him unconscious.
The 301st and 302d Artillery had their troubles with the
icy roads, too. They had just received their horses when the
bitter weather set in, and their task in leading and exercising
their mounts was to keep on their feet themselves, keep the
horses on their feet, if possible and, if they did fall, to keep from
falling under the feet of the horses.
For a time it looked as though the Depot Brigade men might
be training for service in France ahead of the division, for dur-
ing this cold weather many of them were living in the trenches,
84 FORGING THE SWORD
sleeping under ground and getting hardened generally. At
this time it was so cold that it was impossible for the men to
fire their rifles on the rifle range. And it was regular trench
life that these men were living in the trenches. It was almost
as much as your life was worth to try and visit the trenches at
night, but the officers and men both appreciated visitors just
the same. One newspaper correspondent tried it alone one
night. He knew where the trenches were, and in the blackness
he groped his way to them safely. Suddenly, however, he was
nearly startled out of his skin by a voice of a sentry behind
him. A bayonet crept up close to his back and he was ordered
to proceed to Battalion Headquarters. At last a dugout was
reached, and the sentry announced that he had a prowler
but didn't know whether to place him under formal arrest
"Major," cried the scribe, without giving the officer any
identification, "I've got a thermos of hot coffee and some
doughnuts and sandwiches and ... "
"Come right in out of the dark," cried the voice heartily,
and without asking who it was. "No, sentry, this man is not
under arrest. He is a friend, a friend indeed!"
And the sentry went back to his post wishing he had searched
his prisoner first.
Many of the weather difficulties were soon at least partially
overcome, however. Many of the companies had creepers
issued to them so that the danger of slipping on the ice
was practically done away with. Nevertheless a little ditty
known as the Devens Weather Dirge became very popular.
"Sherman said that war was Hell,
'Twas fifty years ago,
But Sherman never was at Aver,
So Sherman didn't know.
Hell is hot but Ayer is not,
It's twenty-eight below;
That's why we're going over there. "
FORGING THE SWORD 85
" Hip, hip, hurrah, we'll give them three times three!
Hip, hip, hurrah, no more cold Ayer for me.
Sherman said that war was Hell
But Hell would freeze in Ayer,
That's why we're going over there."
At intervals the cold was so intense that drilling out of doors
was impossible, but on these occasions the drill would be car-
ried on in the barracks, and in one building a machine gun
emplacement was built and the training went on regardless of
The first machine gun was actually fired at Camp Devens on
December 5. "Top Sergeant" Charles B. Farrington of Com-
pany C, 302d Machine Gun Battalion, fired the first shot, and
the excitement and joy of the men as that indescribable "rat-
tat-tat-tat" echoed over the snowy land and the bullets kicked
up snow and dirt in the embankment several hundred yards
away was worth going miles to see and hear. The first machine
guns issued at Ayer were Colts that had been built for the
Russian Government, so straightway they were christened
" Kerenskies. " And as the first little "Kerensky" barked
forth 45 shots in less than five seconds, the men just wriggled
with delight and yelled: "O, come hither, you Huns!"
And right at the beginning the New England machine gun-
ners started clipping records. The British instructors told
Company C of the 301st Machine Gun Battalion how to mount
them and instructed them in detail as to the British system.
They said that the Tommies at the start usually took about
15 seconds to mount them. Lieutenant George C. Wilkins
gave it to thirty of his men and they did it the first time in
nine seconds flat, beating the Britishers by six seconds.
The British officers and non-commissioned officers took a
mighty interest in their prot6ges. They liked them and they
wanted to impart to them all they knew of the war game.
Their bayonet instruction was little short of marvelous, and
86 FORGING THE SWORD
the Yankee lads soon came to understand what their instruct-
ors meant by getting the punch behind the bayonet work. So
well did the Englishmen teach these lads of ours, that pretty
soon it was hard to realize that it was only dummies these boys
were charging and stabbing.
The British theory was, apparently, that when you charge a
German you can win half your victory by scaring him. And
in order to scare him it is necessary to put the yell of a Coman-
che warrior into the sucking dove class and to make the face
look as nearly as possible like a concentrated reproduction of
Dante's vision. After our lads got into their stride it was
extremely ludicrous to see the expressions that would spread
over the faces of visitors who happened to wander into a bay-
onet class in action. For the yells of these youngsters were
hair-raising and sometimes their language in addressing the
dummies was not the kind to be found in a Sunday School
Their instructions from the British noncoms. were some-
thing along this line:
" Blat at 'im like a bloody banshee! Cuss 'im off the fyce o'
the earth. Look at 'im so bleedin' fierce that 'ee'll think yer
goin' t' bloody well chaw 'im h'up, 'stead o' stickin' 'im with
yer byonet. 'Owl at 'im like 'ee'd stole yer lawst drop o' rum.
Roar at the blighter like a lot o' bloody lions wot's off their
feed. Now go at 'em again!"
With teeth gritted in a perfect frenzy of rage, and yelling
like young Sioux braves, the class in bayonet instruction would
charge the dummies. It sounded pretty good to them, and
when it was over they turned and looked at their British friend
"That," said the Britisher bitterly, "was a 'ell of a mess!
W'y do yer want t' h'apologize t' the bounder? 'Ere, give us
Taking the rifle and bayonet and throwing his British cap to
one side the cockney backed off, eyeing the dummy nearest
FORGING THE SWORD 87
him malevolently. His eyes gleamed brighter and brighter and
fiercer and fiercer and his lips began to curl back over his teeth
in a fiendish snarl. Suddenly he crouched, ripping off a string
of curses that would make the blood of a thug run cold. Then,
with a screech of fury that fairly raised the hair on the heads of
his pupils, he leaped at the dummy and sank the cold steel
into its wishbone, assuming that it had one. At least the
thrust was where the wishbone ought to be.
"That's summat like it," he said as he turned toward his
class. "But," apologetically, "H'im a little bit orf form
myself just now."
And people used to think of military training simply as
marching and drilling!
Yes, indeed, many a good New Englander got the start of his
or her life, as the case happened to be, on suddenly running
into a piece of real fighting training in progress. It took them
a little time to get used to it, for at first they couldn't seem to
realize that these things were being taught their boys in order
to save life, that is, American life.
Later on battles were fought at Camp Devens almost every
day, and many a man was "bunged up" in those battles, lit-
erally as well as figuratively. Black eyes and bloody noses
were almost sure to follow bayonet attacks, and bruises were
commonplace, for these men were going at it in earnest.
Many a visitor to Camp Devens just happened in on a
"battle. " One example is as good as another. Picture for a
A whistle sounded shrilly in a deserted farmyard, which
was now a part of the cantonment. It brought Lieutenant
"Tommy" Thatcher, Harvard football player before he went
to bayoneting, jack-in-the-boxing out of a deep trench. He
was followed by seven others.
Up a steep they scooted, their rifles gripped and wicked
gray steel showing deadly in the sunlight. They reached the
crest and there the hill dropped perpendicularly. With a yell
88 FORGING THE SWORD
and a snarl and a growl (these chaps had learned the trick from
the Britishers) — all rolled into one utterance — they leaped into
the air and down to the ground eight feet below.
Before even their feet had touched the earth their bayonets
were buried in sandbags, which represented the enemy. Al-
most in the same movement the bayonets had been jerked out
again. The eight men sped on in an even line for another ten
yards and each bayonet found another mark, a "German"
dummy of reeds suspended from a gallows.
The line of men moved on faster for another twenty yards
to another line of dummies, another gnashing shout, another
jabbing and still another charge, on to a third line of "Ger-
mans." Then came the biggest test of all.
Lieutenant Thatcher's head peered over the top just long
enough for him to glimpse the target. Then he gave his orders.
The muzzles of eight rifles nosed swiftly out over the terrain
and forty shots rang out in almost as many seconds. Almost
every bullet found its mark in the silhouetted heads of Fritzies,
Heinies and Hunies, which were nestled against a hillside, some
This was known as the assault course.
It was the same in almost every arm of the service. The
men were being taught what they had to do under, as nearly
as was possible, the conditions under which they would have
to do it. They weren't just being told. They were being
shown, and after they were shown they were doing it.
When the war training for the 76th Division really started
there were 34 different schools running in various parts of the
cantonment. Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Croft was head of
the entire group of schools, and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles E.
Romeyn was in command of the school of the army. They
weren't all fighting schools, of course. There were cooking
schools and horseshoeing schools and saddlers' schools and
equitation schools and schools of field fortifications and
almost every kind of military school you could think of. But
FORGING THE SWORD 89
they were graduating classes fast, for their students were bright
and eager and willing.
And as they progressed their training became more technical
and difficult. There were accidents, of course. It is hardly
possible to play with fire continually without getting burned.
But the victims of the accidents usually had the satisfaction of
knowing that their misfortune had warned hundreds of their
buddies. One man, however, was the victim of one of the
most deplorable accidents that happened at Camp Devens
during the entire history of the camp. He was Corporal
Timothy J. Daley of Waterbury, Connecticut. During bay-
onet practice one day he ran upon the bayonet of another man
and was almost instantly killed. He was a most popular lad
and a very promising young man. His death in such an
unfortunate manner cast a gloom over the entire camp.
CHRISTMAS AND PROGRESS
December 13 was Connecticut's day at Camp Devens.
Governor Marcus H. Holcomb came. He watched the 304th
Infantry — that wonderful regiment composed almost exclu-
sively of Connecticut men — go through its newly learned paces
in the trenches. He saw all the various methods of attack
and defense that they had learned up to this time, and the
governor, getting along in years, enjoyed every minute of it.
Then he addressed them, the regiment having been gathered
together, for he had brought among other things from their
home state a message that they were to carry with them during
the rest of their military service. And, also, he had that which
every soldier should treasure among the dearest of his military
possessions, a stand of colors for the regiment. It was an
American flag given to the 304th Infantry by the citizens of
In a stirring speech to these men of his native state, Governor
Holcomb also gave them a piece of advice, which, as nearly as
can be ascertained, was followed by every man who had an
opportunity to put it into practice. Raising his right arm high
above his head, his whole frame vibrating with feeling, Gover-
nor Holcomb cried:
"When you go over, men, shoot straight and take damned
Colonel J. S. Herron, commander of the 304th, responded
feelingly to the governor's address, accepting the colors on be-
half of the regiment, and assuring the governor that they would
be guarded with the life of every officer and man in the outfit.
The flag was turned over to Color Sergeant Charles Jackson of
Waterbury, Connecticut. Then followed a review of the 304th
FORGING THE SWORD 91
Infantry and also of the 303d Machine Gun Battalion, which
contained many Connecticut men. Major Fred C. Bradford
commanded the Machine Gun Battalion.
Devens men hailed with delight the opportunity offered by
the Government for enlisted men to become officers if they had
the necessary qualifications and could "deliver the goods."
It was a fine Christmas present for several hundred men, when
they found that they had been named by their commanding
officers as eligible for the O. T. C. Many men applied, but as
is always the case, comparatively few were chosen. Five
hundred and twenty-four men from Camp Devens got the
opportunity to start the course, but it was a rigid one, and
many were disqualified early in the game. Approximately
half of the number who started finished the course.
Lieutenant-Colonel Moor N. Falls, who went over to France
with General Pershing and then returned to help train men, was
named as commander of the school. The other officers of the
school were Captain Joseph Sidorowicz, adjutant; Lieutenant
W. H. Rumpf, assistant adjutant; Captain Birnie L. Brunson,
quartermaster; Lieutenant Roy B. Kenyon, assistant quarter-
master. The instructors were Major Ralph Lowell, Depot
Brigade; Captain John C. Shaw, Depot Brigade; Captain
D. G. Hunter, Depot Brigade; Captain P. A. Merriam, Depot
Brigade; Captain C. K. Clark, Depot Brigade; Captain Alex
Kendall, Depot Brigade; Captain Robert C. Booth, 303d
Infantry; Lieutenant George Cockrell, Divisional Trains;
Lieutenant P. D. Hill, 301st Infantry, and Lieutenants F. B.
Sampson, Clarence B. MacNeill, H. B. Hinman and J. A.
The school started on January 5 and lasted until April 5, and
some of the boys who thought they had worked hard before
found that they had another think coming after they got into
the Officers' Training School. It was one of the most gruelling
tests any men were called upon to undergo in training, but it
turned out a fine body of officers.
92 FORGING THE SWORD
There aren't many men who will forget their first Christmas
in the army. Nor their second, either, for that matter. But
the first one was perhaps the more memorable of the two, so far
as Camp Devens was concerned, for these lads were so recently
away from home, and the thoughts of the home folks were
centered on them, while their thoughts were on where they
might be spending the next Christmas, their hope being, of
course, that they would be back home by that time.
It seemed as though everybody set out to see how much they
could heap on the men in the army in the way of Christmas
presents. It happened at Camp Devens that an epidemic of
measles was raging, and for that reason comparatively few men
got to their homes. Only about 4,000, as a matter of fact,
while some 21,000 remained in camp.
The pity of it is that the people of New England couldn't
have spent Christmas eve of 191 7 at Camp Devens, for they
would have learned more things about Christmas spirit there
than in a lifetime in civilian life. It is well-nigh useless to try
to paint a word picture of the scene. But just one little inci-
dent, one that was typical of the spirit throughout the entire
cantonment, brought moisture to the eyes of just about every-
body who saw it, and at the same time a glow somewhere
within the body, at the center of whatever it is that governs
our emotions. A religious person would call it the soul.
But religious or not, no one who was there will ever forget
their feelings at seeing whole companies and regiments of
khaki-clad young men gathered together in the wet snow and
the darkness, while bright Christmas lights pierced the black
and sparkled out a Yuletide greeting, and as the hosts gathered
around a huge Christmas tree erected in the snow, "O, Come,
All Ye Faithful" echoed out across those barren white plains
from the throats of hundreds of strong, clean, virile young men.
You may have heard the Christmas carols on Beacon Hill on
Christmas eve or in the snowy square of your own particular
home town, but these lonesome boys lifting their fresh, deep
FORGING THE SWORD 93
young voices in praise to the Prince of Peace struck a new
chord, a chord that will vibrate in the hearts of New England
folks for many a long year to come, whether they were there to
hear it or not. The last notes of the grand old hymn died
away on the chilly air, and swiftly and silently the men passed
on into the night.
Christmas day was just about a repetition of Thanksgiving,
except that there were three times as many men in camp to
participate in the celebration. There was a Christmas dinner
that would put the choicest offering of many a first-class hotel
to shame, and there was so much of it that even the most
determined were obliged to give up despairingly and cry,
But there was one thing that marred something of the
Christmas joy for some of the older officers. It was just about
this time that they began to read the handwriting on the wall
as to the fate of the 76th Division. These men of wide military
experience began to see, with the orders coming one after the
other for the transfer of men out of the ranks of the division,
that there was little chance of its entering the fight across the
water as a unit. And that made them sad, for, regardless of
their previous affiliations, they had come to love this big New
England fighting organization, and they wanted to see it given
a chance to prove itself as a unit.
Early in January, 1,650 men — a mere handful — were trans-
ferred from the Depot Brigade to the division ranks. But
against this number some 10,000 had been transferred to other
units from the ranks of the division. Just as soon as they would
get one group well trained, orders would come to send them
off somewhere else. It was heart-breaking. And they knew
in their hearts that it could only mean that the 76th Division,
N. A., was destined to become a Depot Division, one from
which drafts of men may be drawn to fill gaping ranks in
This is typical of what was happening : Soon after the 1 ,650
94 FORGING THE SWORD
men referred to above were transferred from the Depot Brigade
to the division, orders came to send 1,775 more men to Camp
Greene at Charlotte, North Carolina. When an order of this
kind came through practically every unit in the division was
hit by it. In the instance of these 1,775 they were selected as
follows: 65 from the 302d Machine Gun Battalion, 239 from
the 301st Infantry, 311 from the 302d Infantry, 317 from the
303d Infantry, 318 from the 304th Infantry, 25 from the 303d
Machine Gun Battalion, and only 500 from the 151st Depot
This transfer left a scant 25,000 men in camp, while about
15,000 had been transferred to other divisions, and many of
them were already overseas. It was typical of the 76th
Division's hard luck.
During the first winter an order came through from Wash-
ington to have a seal designed for the division. At that time
it was not stated what the seal was to be used for and few
realized that, instead of a seal, it was really an insignia that
was required. Major James Amory Sullivan, commander of
the 303d Machine Gun Battalion and a widely known Boston
artist, was asked if he would undertake the work, which he
did, designing and painting a very beautiful and appropriate
emblem. The crest of the seal was made up of the emblems of
the various arms of the service, including a hand grenade. The
upper strip of the seal itself contained the emblem of the eldest
son, a bar and three triangles, the meaning being that the 76th
Division was the first National Army Division to be drawn
from New England. The shield or main body of the seal was
a white background bearing an up-rooted tree with thirteen
leaves. The uprooted tree represented the sons of New Eng-
land taken from their homes and sent to France to fight,
while the thirteen leaves were the thirteen original states. At
the top of the crest appeared an unfinished wagon wheel, mean-
ing a task not yet completed. Back of it all and supporting
the shield itself were the figures 76, denoting the number of the
FORGING THE SWORD 95
division, and, incidentally, the year of the Declaration of
Later it became known that what was wanted was an in-
signia to be stenciled on all baggage and to be worn on the
shoulder as a distinctive divisional emblem. This beautiful
seal was too complicated for this purpose, so, after the 76th got
to France, the outline of the ship Mayflower was adopted.
The Liberty Theater, something hitherto undreamed of as a
part of the equipment necessary for training men to fight, was
opened at Camp Devens on February 11 of 1918. It was a
regular theater built to accommodate nearly 3,000 men, paid
for by the Government, through the War Camp Community
Service, run by soldiers and financially self-supporting. The
actors were temporary Government employees, and more than
a dozen stock companies were organized to tour the canton-
ments in the United States and play in the Liberty Theaters.
The Devens Liberty Theater opened with "Baby Mine,"
followed by "Kick In." The companies were good and the
actors and actresses did real patriotic service. When there
were no real plays offered, moving pictures were shown at the
theater, and it afforded the men a place inside the camp for
Then, too, companies of actors playing at Boston theaters
were coming to Camp Devens on Sunday afternoons. On one
memorable occasion Major Henry L. Higginson, the Boston
banker, brought up an array of theatrical stars such as is
seldom found gathered together except in the festivities of the
Friars' Club or the annual Lambs' Gambol. No admission
was charged to these latter entertainments, and the men were
able to see free an entertainment that a city audience would
have paid enormous prices to attend. It spoke well for the
spirit of the theatrical people of America when they were will-
ing, repeatedly, to give their only rest day to the soldiers.
Major-General Hodges returned from France on February
13, just in time to see the last 15 per cent of the first draft come
96 FORGING THE SWORD
in. While abroad he had taken a course of instruction at the
battle front, spending ten days with the British, a like period
with the French and some time in the American training areas
and at American Headquarters. With his return training was
accelerated to an even greater degree.
The lesson of what the army does for a young man was never
better taught than by the comparison between the men of the
first quotas to reach camp and the men who came in as the last
15 per cent. It was the usual contrast between " rookies" and
veterans, and the "rookies" themselves noticed the difference
and dug in their toes to catch up. There were about 6,000 men
in this last 15 per cent.
Naturally they had to stand a lot of "joshing" from their
brothers who had been "in" longer. But it was good-natured
fun for the most part. On the night of the arrival of the last
of these 6,000, when a dozen or more of the new ones were
gathered together in a barrack room, there was a sudden back-
fire from a motorcycle far enough down the company street so
that the noise of the motor could not be heard. But the report
was heard all right, and as it echoed through the building a
groan escaped from a newly made sergeant.
"There!" he wailed. "That's what they get for letting
these "rookies" go around as soon as they get here without
telling them the pass word! Another one shot, and now we'll
have to pick him up and bury him in the morning!"
He was a good actor, but he had hard work restraining his
laughter as half a dozen pale-faced "rookies" quietly slipped
away toward their bunks. How were they to know that pass
words weren't used at Camp Devens?
It wasn't until March that the 301st Field Artillery and the
302d and 303d Infantry Regiments got their regimental colors.
And when they did receive them there was little that was spec-
tacular about the ceremony. The regimental flags for these
three regiments were presented by the National First Aid
Association of America. Three representatives of the associa-
This is What the English Instructor Taught Devens Doughboy;
to Do, and They Were Apt Pupils— Disarming an
Don't Dirtv the Hilt!" Bayonet Practice with Gas Masks
'•'VI Id If 1 IM
1? i J !Pi i il \ i I
, y> ^
1 1 1 • ■■
■ ttk Q^.' ^»
Learning to Feed Hungry Gun;
Ready for Action and Still at Camp Devens
* - -I
'he "No Max's Land" at Devens
Though These Trenches Look Very Much Like Those Official War
Pictures Taken in France, They Were Built u\ the
30] -1 Engini ers \i ( !amp Devi ns
Photo by International Film Service, Inc.
The Smile That Came from Dixie to Devexs
And the Dusky Lads Could Soldier, Too!
FORGING THE SWORD 97
tion were about the only civilians at the presentation. They
were Roscoe Green Wells, vice-president; Mrs. Wells, secretary,
and Miss Elizabeth Warner, a member. They all came from
Arlington, Massachusetts, and brought the flags with them,
and they never made gifts that were appreciated more.
On March 18 came the welcome news that the 76th Division
was to be filled up to war strength, the men to do this coming
from the second draft. The division as a skeleton organiza-
tion was a highly trained outfit, and the way they absorbed the
new material, once it began to arrive, was one of the most
wonderful things about the organization of the division as it
sailed away. Just before the second draft order was issued,
however, came orders from the War Department prohibiting
the voluntary induction of men into the service before they
were called in the draft. Many of the young men were getting
impatient at the delay and were throwing up their jobs and
reporting at camp of their own accord. They were all accepted
up to the time of the receipt of the order, of course. The first
quotas of the second draft began to arrive on March 29, and on
that day 2,700 of them came in.
As the others arrived the real training of the division began.
Those who had been in the service through the winter were
trained soldiers by now, of course, but through the winter what
they had done had been "marking time" compared to the
brand of training that was started with the arrival of spring.
For one thing, real artillery fire began in March. A fine
artillery range was ready out in the wild country back of the
camp, and, on March 25, Battery C of the 302d Field Artillery
went out there with their four eighteen-pounders. Corporal
Earl J. Place, a Newport, Vermont, boy sent the first shell, fired
by a cannon of the 76th Division, whistling and screeching
away to destruction, firing at a point on a Harvard hillside a
mile and a half away. And ten seconds later the other three
pieces of the battery had boomed forth their first shots.
The big German drive was in full swing over in France and
98 FORGING THE SWORD
the Huns were sweeping onward day by day. So this intensive
training was just "candy" for the New Englanders, who were
impatient over their prolonged stay in this country. The
foreign attaches showed how they felt about the advance of
the Germans by the way they went after the training of the
76th Division, but they couldn't drive the Yanks a bit too hard
to suit them.
All during the spring days field maneuvers were going on
out on the various ranges around Ayer, Shirley, Harvard,
Bolton and Lancaster. Just about every kind of fighting
known to man or beast was being practised. During the days
the cantonment proper looked almost deserted, but the coun-
tryside was resounding with the thunder of artillery, the crash
of grenades and one-pounder cannon, the " rat-tat-tat-tat " of
machine guns and automatic rifles, the desultory or rapid fire
of rifles and the shouts and yells of charging hordes of helmeted,
khaki-clad New England doughboys.
At night the sky was aflame with star shells and rockets and
colored fire, while out in the darkness New England lads were
in the trenches or crawling silently across some "No Man's
Land, " while machine guns sent a deadly hail over their backs
at some invisible "enemy." And many a lad, worming his
way through the darkness of some Camp Devens " battlefield, "
thought of his buddies over there in France, who were probably
doing the same thing, only in the face of a real enemy instead
of an imaginery or "friendly" one, where death might lurk
behind the next shadow. The longing in the heart of the lad
on the New England "battlefield" needs neither comment nor
And all through these days and nights the best kind of
sporting spirit was ripening into a real friendship between
the officers and men of this National Army. The men were
good soldiers. They knew the meaning of discipline and
they knew how to observe it. And out of this knowledge had
grown the friendship that they had hardly ever thought existed
on the part of their officers. A couple of incidents help to
ioo FORGING THE SWORD
Colonel Frank Tompkins, commander of the 301st Infantry,
found a young officer trying to show a "rookie" how to fire a
rifle in the army way. The colonel watched for a moment and
then told the officer to let the boy fire in his own way. The
"rookie," glad of this opportunity to show how he could shoot
if let alone, took a new position and fired, making two bull's-
eyes in succession.
"Now," said Colonel Tompkins smiling, "you fire your way
and I'll fire in the army way, and I'll shoot you five shots for a
twenty-four hour pass."
The lad laughed and agreed to this eagerly. But Colonel
Tompkins made a score of twenty-four out of a possible twenty-
five and won, leaving the lad far behind. The "rookie " recog-
nized the lesson and settled down to learn that army method
or bust. At the same time he had gained a mighty respect for
the colonel. That incident is typical of Colonel Tompkins.
And another incident, involving a colonel whom one of the
colored draftees who came in from Florida on the last day of
March, described as "de boss with dem birds on his collah":
This particular colonel was passing one of the barracks in the
Depot Brigade occupied by the colored soldiers. The big
black fellow was leaning up against the building reading a
letter, and the colonel passed right by him, but the man did not
salute or even notice that an officer was present. So the col-
onel spoke to him about it very kindly, starting in to explain
to him why he should salute all officers. The moment the
colonel spoke, however, the darky straightened up and snapped
off a salute that nearly threw him off his feet.
"Suh," he said earnestly, "Suh, Ah done knows dat Ah ought
to have saluted yuh, suh, but dis yere lettah f'um mah Anna-
belle is jes' so daggone drippin' with love dat Ah done fergit all
about yo' ahmy fo' a moment, suh. Ah sho' would admiah t'
have yuh excuse me, suh, an' Ah suttinly won't fergit agin, suh,
Annabelle or no Annabelle, suh."
The colonel laughed, returned the salute and walked away.
FORGING THE SWORD 101
The darky ran for the barracks and told his dusky brethren
about it and they all set out hunting for officers to salute.
There were nearly 2,000 colored troops in Camp Devens at
this time. They were sent to the New England cantonment to
form labor battalions, and they came in clad in light suits and
straw hats, luckily just in time to miss most of the cold weather.
The skilled men among them were singled out for special serv-
ice, and all the rest became laborers. They were quartered
separately from the white soldiers, and by their light-hearted-
ness and love of fun, coupled with their peculiar expressions,
they proved a never-failing reservoir of fun and good cheer to
the whole camp.
On April 19 the Officers' Training School at Camp Devens
came to a close, with a series of joyful and informal parties that
ranked with anything of the kind that had ever been held
before in the whole history of the camp. It had been the
hardest fifteen weeks in the experience of most of the lads
who graduated, and when it was over and the opportunity
came to relax and lark a little, they welcomed it with all the
enthusiasm of their youth.
Of the school that was started in January only about 400
were graduated. Many had dropped out during the course
and there were about 100 who did not graduate, though they
were recommended to be sent to the next school and given
Those young men who were commissioned, however, will
never forget the day of their graduation, for they heard a
personal talk from the commanding general himself, something
they had not had before. It was the admonition of an old
soldier to a group of young ones, and they paid great heed to
General Hodges' message to them as they started out to wear
The general's message was typically American. Its sub-
stance was: "Above all you must be just."
"Play no favorites and show absolute fairness with your men,
102 FORGING THE SWORD
if you are to be good officers. Put aside all thought of per-
sonal reward and devote your whole service to your country.
You must respect your men, too, and by your respect you will
This was the soldier's creed set forth by General Hodges.
And he spoke words of encouragement to those who failed,
telling them that, simply because they had not been given their
commissions at the end of the first course, it did not signify
that they would never be commissioned or that they would not
make good officers.
Lieutenant-Colonel Moor N. Falls, commander of the
school, also spoke to the men, congratulating them on the
manner in which they had applied themselves to the difficult
task of winning a commission and thanking them for the help
they had given him in making the school a success. He
expressed his personal pride in each and every one of them.
On April 23 the 301st Engineers were presented with their
regimental colors. The beautiful scarlet flag was a gift of
H. J. Lynd of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, who took a great
personal interest in this Rhode Island Regiment. The pre-
sentation of the flag made one of the prettiest ceremonies yet
seen at Camp Devens, for these Rhode Island lads were full of
pep and ginger, and when they did a thing it came pretty
near being done right. The flag was turned over to Major
J. Edward Cassidy by Captain H. E. Porter, the adjutant.
It was not until April 26, 1918, "Liberty day," that Major-
General Hodges saw his entire command brought together on
one field, and New England folks who made it a point to be
there got some idea of the actual size of a modern Army Di-
vision. It was all right to tell them that here were more men
in a single fighting machine than we had in our entire army at
the time of the Spanish War, but until they saw those uni-
formed hosts sweep confidently onto the great parade field and
wheel smoothly into line, while ten huge military bands played
brisk martial music, they didn't quite grasp the magnitude of
FORGING THE SWORD 103
it. This was truly an historic event for New England. And
because the War Department had only ordered the review the
day before it took place, there was no chance to let people know
about it in time for them to plan to be there, so there were
only about 500 people present from outside the camp.
In May there was started another school, in addition to the
thirty odd that were still running. But the latest school,
while it was chiefly for the instruction of staff and field officers,
from the commanding general down, and was known as the
Staff and Field Officers' School, took in practically every officer
and man in the division before it was over. The school was
run under the direction of Major M. F. Day of the British
General Staff, assisted by the other British officers already
stationed at the camp; Major Rosseau, Captain Roussel,
Captain Filipo, all of the French Mission, and other French
and British officers who had been training the men of the
division for weeks.
The course lasted for three weeks. The part the men had in
it was important, for they participated in all kinds of maneu-
vers in larger bodies than ever before. Battalions of infantry
were moved out to the artillery and combat ranges at Still
River, and here they camped for days, "fighting battles" day
and night under all kinds of conditions and under nearly all
kinds of fire.
When the Staff School started the men of the 76th Division
got their first taste of advancing under their own barrage.
For the guns of the artillery were thundering every day, send-
ing streams of shells out over the rugged landscape and tearing
it to pieces. Close in under these shells the lads of New Eng-
land learned to advance.
And every arm of the service, with the exception of the
liquid flame fighters, got a chance to put what they had
learned into practice. There were "casualties" in every
engagement, almost. At first these "casualties" struck the
men as being funny. A line of men would be advancing, when
104 FORGING THE SWORD
suddenly several messengers would dash up and thrust pieces
of paper into the hands of several men in each "wave." Im-
mediately these men would drop to the ground, and pretty
soon along would come stretcher bearers and first-aid men.
On the piece of paper in each man's hand would be a description
of the "wound" he had received. If the wound was a minor
one the man might be carried back to the dressing station for
treatment. If it was major, however, he would be "plugged, "
bound and given first-aid treatment right then and there and
then carried back to the dressing station for further treatment.
All kinds of accidents were arranged. Wires were cut by
enemy prowlers and by shell fire. Parties of men got lost.
Everything that could happen under actual war conditions did
happen under the sham conditions, and both officers and men
learned what to do. Following each maneuver the staff and
field officers gathered and held critiques, while the foreign
veterans listened and instructed and explained. It was won-
derful training, and training that both officers and men were
to appreciate later on.
In the meantime the division was filling up still more. A
new Officers' Training School was started in May with nearly
i ,000 candidates, part of whom came from colleges and univer-
sities throughout New England. But to replace these men
some 2,200 recruits arrived at Devens from Camp Upton, New
York, on May 21. Of course the division was glad to get
them and they were good soldiers and good fellows for the most
part, but some felt that by failing to keep the division pri-
marily and fundamentally a New England outfit, valuable
spirit was lost. And all the time New England men were
being sent to other camps to fill up other divisions. It did seem
as though the filling up of the 76th might have been done
from New England. But the regiments were brought up to
war strength, and, after all, that was the main point.
While the training of the 76th Division was being rushed to
a close, changes and additional departures were of almost daily
FORGING THE SWORD 105
occurrence in the cantonment, which would go on training
troops long after the 76th Division sailed for France.
On June 3 the entire camp was startled by the announcement
that 100 German prisoners of war had arrived from the prison
camp at Fort McPherson, Georgia. These men had all been
sailors on the German sea raider Kronprinz Wilhelm. But
Camp Devens proper didn't see them at all, for they came up in
charge of 25 Regular Army doughboys and one officer, and were
sent to a War Prison Barracks that had been established out in
the vicinity of Still River. Here the Government had leased
more than 200 acres of fertile farm land, and it was proposed to
have the German prisoners work the farms that would furnish
much subsistence for Camp Devens.
Then a "new stunt" was announced whereby men who were
physically unqualified for active military service were to be
given a system of training and treatment that would cure them
and make them fit. All such men were transferred into one
group which became known as the Development Battalion.
Later there were four Development Battalions, each for certain
kinds of physical defects.
Many a man who was just aching to get across to France to
fight, but who was prevented from so doing because he was sent
to the Development Battalion, was utterly miserable there
until he was cured and sent to a fighting outfit. But there was
a large and ever growing suspicion among many of the medical
officers that the Development Battalions provided a safe hiding
place for a considerable number of shirkers who were willing
to endure almost anything rather than go across to France.
Some were cured and sent off anyway, but others stayed there
until the end of the war, if they were clever enough to fool the
doctors. One thing is certain, that when demobilization orders
came through and it was stipulated that only men who were
physically fit should be discharged at once, more remarkable
and swift cures were effected in the Development Battalions
than in any other outfits.
106 FORGING THE SWORD
And in June, too, while the training of the division was
being rushed to a close, the trade tests system was inaugurated
at Camp Devens. Through these tests every man had to
show the military authorities the goods before he was assigned
to any special brand of work. There were tests for automo-
bile men, carpenters, blacksmiths, electricians, masons, sten-
ographers, etc., and lists were made up showing which men had
qualified in the various branches of work. So when an organ-
ization wanted any specially trained men, all that had to be
done was to look over the lists at the trade tests building
and the names and location of the men wanted would be
Camp Devens led every other camp in the country in the
matter of the mental development of the men inducted, accord-
ing to statistics given out at Headquarters on June 8. These
statistics showed that there had been fewer discharges at
Camp Devens than at any other camp for nervous and mental
diseases. Devens also did well in the matter of War Risk
Insurance. Up to June of 1918, 51,000 men had taken out
$449,000,000 worth of Government insurance.
The Staff and Field Officers' School ended on June 7, after
three weeks of the hardest kind of campaigning on the part of
both officers and men. A tremendous, thrilling finish, in which
the entire division would take part, was planned but had to be
abandoned at the last moment because of rain, which fell in
torrents. But the battles that were fought during that three
weeks — even though they were sham — will long be remem-
bered by New England, and especially by the men who took
part in them, and many are of the opinion that Amann Field,
where these New England boys of ours trained to do battle in
the world-wide struggle for democracy, should be preserved as
a memorial to their patriotism and devotion to their country.
Following the completion of the staff and field officers'
course, special schools for captains and field officers were ar-
ranged to "top off " with. Among these was a school for rapid
FORGING THE SWORD 107
and accurate rifle fire, a supplementary bayonet course, a
motor-cycle dispatch riders' school and a school for automatic
riflemen. A long list of "Do's and Don't's" was issued for
both officers and men, but it was gratifying to note that the
chief admonition was typically American, and almost worth
all the rest put together. It consisted of just three words:
"Use Common Sense!"
The inspection of the 76th Division for overseas service be-
gan on June 12, but of course the public wasn't supposed to
know what the inspection was really for. It was supposed to
herald another shake-up in the division personnel, but pretty
nearly everybody who was interested realized that the hour was
approaching and recognized the inspection as final. Three
officers from the Inspector-General's Department in Washing-
ton came to camp to inspect the division. They were Brigadier-
General Thomas Q. Donaldson, Colonel Oliver L. Spaulding
and Major Charles S. Hamilton. Their official visit lasted
The final review of the 76th Division was held on June 19.
General Donaldson and his assistants had looked over the out-
fit from top to bottom, and their final test was a grand review.
Pretty nearly everybody knew that this was the last appearance
in public of the outfit, before it went to France, at least, but
few who saw the 76th on that day realized that it was the last
time New England would ever see the division gathered to-
gether in this country. But it was the last appearance, for
almost as soon as the division got overseas it was split up and
portions of it sent to almost every part of the American
Expeditionary Force. The men came home in small groups,
some of them not arriving until weeks after other members of
the outfit had been returned to civilian life. The 76th Divi-
sion never paraded again on its home soil, but after this review
there could be no doubt in the minds of the most critical as to
the fitness of the men for overseas service.
Farewells were being said. Not in so many words, but fare-
wells nevertheless. One of the most impressive of all the
FORGING THE SWORD 109
ceremonies ever held for the 76th Division was on Sunday,
June 16, when Cardinal O'Connell came up from Boston and
officially bestowed his blessing on the Devens soldiers. It was
his first official visit to Devens and his last to the 76th Division.
More than 5,000 soldiers knelt reverently in the open that
Sunday morning and heard the cardinal's parting message to
them. It was a message ringing with patriotism. These men
were called by His Eminence "soldiers of a glorious American
Army, invincible in spirit and discipline and sustained by their
faith with a courage which is the banner of the heart and which
enables a man to face danger and death or any duty without
fear or thought of consequence."
He called them "an army of invincible giants," and there
was a farewell note at the close of his address when he said :
You will face whatever happens, even if it be death itself, because you
know that the Hand of God is on your head in benediction, and our beloved
country stands by watching you today. It needs your valor, it needs your
courage, and your fathers, mothers and friends are all praying to God to
keep your hearts pure, your souls upright and courageous, in order that you
may come forth like the Crusaders of Old and win in the cause of God and
America. May God bless you all and keep you in His Holy Name.
Bishop William Lawrence came to Camp Devens the follow-
ing Sunday and delivered a farewell address to the men in which
he struck a chord of patriotic ardor that represented the feel-
ings of the people of all New England as their sons were about
to go forth to battle and join the lads from our Northeastern
States who were already over there and in the thick of the
fighting. He told these men that God's cause was not going
to fail and that they had that cause in their hands.
Naturalization of all aliens in the division started on Mon-
day morning, June 24, so that all the men who went across in
the division might go as full-fledged American citizens. Prec-
edents were shattered all to blazes in order that this might be
done, and the Federal District Court sat for the first time in its
history outside a conventional court chamber.
no FORGING THE SWORD
The first naturalization ceremony was an impressive one.
Judge James H. Morton, Jr., came to Camp Devens and opened
court in the Y. M. C. A. Auditorium, sitting on a camp chair
and presiding from behind a kitchen table. Before him stood
800 men seeking citizenship — the first of 5,500 to be so natu-
ralized — and every man dressed in an American uniform, ready
to pledge their allegiance and their lives to the United States.
At a signal from the court officer, those tanned and brawny
hands shot into the air and they took the oath of allegiance
to Uncle Sam. Then they listened to an inspiring speech
by Judge Morton. Italians, Russians, Turks, Portuguese,
Norwegians, Greeks, Swiss, Belgians, Swedes, Roumanians,
Dutch, Persians, Austrians and subjects of Great Britain
walked into that court. American citizens and soldiers
Then came the Fourth of July. It's always a big event here
in God's Country, but the Fourth of July of 1918 was probably
next to the biggest in the history of all New England. For
that historic day found at least part of the 76th Division on its
way to the transports that were to take them to France. No
more appropriate day could have been selected.
Hundreds in New England knew that the 76th Division had
gone. Most of the men got to their homes just before they
sailed, and they had told the home folks that this would
probably be their last visit for some time. But there were
hundreds of thousands who didn't know it; who had no idea
that 28,000 sturdy New England lads had quickly and quietly
passed from their home shores to huge transports, which had
immediately put out to sea on the first leg of the race to the
And not until July 24, twenty days after the first unit of the
76th Division had sailed, was it possible for the newspapers to
tell the world the biggest story in the history of the National
Army Division that had its beginning at Camp Devens on
September 5, 191 7; that story of the period between July 3 and
FORGING THE SWORD in
15, when Yankee hosts forsook their homeland for the blood-
soaked fields of France, and did it happily and gladly. For
thirteen happy days the sons of the Pilgrim country went out of
Camp Devens singing and shouting, happy in the thought that
the thing for which they had trained and worked and sweated
through ten long months was at last to be realized. They
sailed from several different points, including New York,
Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
On "the night before the Fourth" the 76th Division Head-
quarters ceased to exist at Camp Devens, only to open simul-
taneously at a "Port of Embarkation." At 3 o'clock that
afternoon Colonel Charles C. Smith led his command of men
from the Cape District, the 302d Infantry, from the main
parade ground at Devens to the waiting trains. It was the
first outfit to start for the battlefields that almost every man
had been talking about since the first day he donned the uni-
form. They went out singing, "Hail! Hail! the Gang's all
Here, " and all the rest of it.
Secrecy and the rumors of silent midnight departures turned
out to be jokes. The camp gates were wide open. The 302d
formed hours ahead of time outside the barracks and on the hot
drill fields, with equipment enough to tell any one that they
were ready for France. Not more than a hundred friends and
families happened to be on hand to kiss their soldiers goodbye.
They watched the men fall in, followed them down to the rail-
road sidings and waved farewells, and the trains rolled swiftly
out to "that somewhere."
It was only tearful in spots.
In fact, Devens had never been so lively as in those depart-
ing days. Never before in all the months of training had offi-
cers worried so little about morale and the spirit of their troops.
Night and day barracks were ringing with songs and cheers
and ludicrous farewell revelries.
Kaiser Bill in effigy was burned no fewer than six times.
Barracks were labelled with such signs as these:
ii2 FORGING THE SWORD
"To Let: Owner Gone Abroad for the Summer."
" Fine Steam-Heated Apartment, to Sublease. Five Rooms.
Shower Baths. Call Berlin, 304.TH Infantry, by Telephone."
"Will Sell Cheap. Owner Touring Germany."
Medical officers of the 301st Engineers, Little Rhody's outfit,
placarded their infirmary with letters five feet high, declaring
that they had been "summoned to operate on the Kaiser."
Six weeks ahead of time it was known that the division would
pull out. But not until two or three hours ahead of time did
officers know when they would start. And the enlisted men
were on the anxious seat for days, not finally being sure that
they were off for the front until they heard sudden orders:
"Fall in outside — ready to start."
The Artillery Brigade, for example, went to bed at taps at 10
o'clock on the night of July 15, and were awakened only an
hour later by "First call for France." They piled out into
the night and were all gone out of camp before daybreak, the
whole three regiments of them.
Division Headquarters went on the first section of the train
with the 302d Infantry. Major-General Harry F. Hodges
had left the day before with his aides for "a short trip to New
York." A few knew just what that meant.
If all New England had only known what they might have
seen had they gone to Camp Devens for the Fourth of July!
The camp was open to all who wanted to come visiting, but
only a few hundreds came. Some said afterwards that they
thought the whole division had gone July 1.
At 3 o'clock on the afternoon of July 4, the 301st Infantry,
Boston's Own Regiment, cheered itself away. In long sections
of coaches the trains rolled at short intervals down through the
town of Ayer in broad daylight. This regiment placarded the
doors of their Devens homes with the names of familiar Boston
Hotels. One sign read :
" Hotel Touraine Closed by Order of the Licensing Board."
Colonel A. L. Parmerter
Colonel J. B. Kemper
Colonel Osmun Latrobe
Colonel O. H. Dockeky, Jr.
FORGING THE SWORD 113
On the days following went the two Infantry Regiments of
the 152CI Infantry Brigade, the 303d Regiment of New Yorkers
and the 304th Regiment of Connecticut men.
There were last-minute weddings in camp and stories of
farewell ceremonies in the 304th Infantry that would have
interested the state of Connecticut, as well as all the other New
England States, more than almost anything else that was ap-
pearing in the newspapers at the time, not excepting the daily
bulletins of the great German drive and the dogged Allied
fighting. Any who wished could go and see it, but nothing
could be written about it. Such was the voluntary censorship.
After the infantry went the Machine Gun Battalions of
Essex and Middlesex Counties, Massachusetts, and the
Connecticut men. Major James Amory Sullivan, the well
known artist, was the last of these battalion commanders to
In turn brigade commanders and colonels took their turn at
Headquarters on the hill, commanding the camp for the few
days or hours when each happened to be the senior officer left.
Then went the "trains," the 301st Sanitary, Ammunition and
The Rhode Islanders of the 301st Engineers, who had ex-
pected to be in the advance guard, didn't move until near the
end, starting July 12 with two companies of the 301st Field
Artillery. And they kept almost the whole camp awake all
the night before with their celebrations, shirt-tail parades and
Maine and New Hampshire people should have been at camp
on the afternoon of July 15. The regiment from those states —
the 303d Field Artillery — which would yield second place to
none as a highly trained outfit, put on the smartest review the
camp had seen up to that time, and it was witnessed only by a
few officers' wives. Even they didn't realize just how nearly
a farewell review it was. A few hours later they, the last of
the 76th Division, had left Camp Devens.
114 FORGING THE SWORD
With each train went Y. M. C. A. or K. of C. secretaries, sell-
ing hundreds of dollars' worth of stamps and cards to men who
were writing farewells to be mailed after their arrival in France.
At the docks the departure of the division was the most hurried,
business-like affair of all. It seemed as if the trains ran straight
into the ships, so uninterrupted was the detraining. Red
Cross workers were there with coffee and sandwiches.
One Saturday, during the departure, Base Hospital No. 7
was sandwiched in between units of the division. That hos-
pital contained in its personnel some of the best known New
England medical men, but it was not a part of the 76th
Division, though part of its training took place at Devens.
But though New England didn't get the thrill of seeing its
men depart for the other side, folks did feel thrilled when it was
announced that the boys were safely over there, hard at work
completing their training which was started in the central
Massachusetts countryside. They thrilled, too, when they
heard of the reception accorded the sturdy New Englanders as
they marched through foreign cities. And the spirit of those
Yankee lads, as they departed for the fields of battle, hurled
back a denial at those who doubted the caliber of the American
For the spirit of the 76th Division was of the highest order.
It was the spirit that has been handed down from the Pilgrim
Fathers themselves — that never-flagging, unconquerable spirit
that makes Americans win any fight that they throw them-
selves into. Had it been possible for anything to break that
spirit, it would have been broken when the 76th Division was
made a Depot Division overseas and split up to fill the depleted
ranks of other units. But even that heartbreaking experience
did not dampen the patriotic spirit of New England's first
National Army Division, and men of the 76th Division made
good in every task they were called upon to perform, whether
among relatives, friends or strangers. That will stand to their
everlasting glory and credit.
GENERAL McCAIN AND THE 12TH DIVISION
Following the sailing of the 76th Division, drafted men
from New England were being sent to Fort Slocum, New York;
or many of them were, and people began to wonder where the
next division to train at Camp Devens was going to come from.
For it had been announced that another division would train
there, though one rumor had it that it would be a Regular Army
Division. The basis of this rumor became known later.
But draftees were pouring into Camp Devens in July, re-
gardless of the numbers that were being sent to Fort Slocum.
They were coming in by the thousands, largely from Massa-
chusetts and Maine. But their spirit was wonderful. The
departure of the 76th Division had been in a measure responsi-
ble for that.
On the day that the safe arrival of the 76th Division in
France was released for publication — July 24 — the announce-
ment was also released that the next division to train at Devens
would be known as the 12th. But the 12th was to be a little
different from the 76th in its make-up. The War Department
decided to send two regiments of Regular Army troops to Camp
Devens and to build the new division around these regiments.
The Regular outfits selected to form a base for the new 12th
Division were the 36th Infantry, which was stationed at Fort
Snelling, Michigan, and the 42d Infantry, which was doing
guard duty in various American cities and ports.
But the New Englanders didn't seem to care what division
they got into now, just so long as they got in. By the thou-
sands they continued to come — eager, anxious, "jes' r'arin' t'
go!" A former Worcester, Massachusetts, motorman, Edward
T. Scanlon, came in almost panting with anxiety and eagerness.
u6 FORGING THE SWORD
He weighed two hundred and thirty odd pounds, and he burst
in on the medical officer with :
" For God's sake, don't reject me. I've got a brother and a
cousin almost as big as me in here already! "
He was examined and sent along to a company. That was
the spirit of these men, and 9,000 of them came in in three days.
In fact the material for the 12th Division was mobilized so
rapidly that early in August the outfit, untrained though it
was, was almost up to full strength.
And while there were men in the 12th Division from almost
every state in the Union, not excluding Alaska and Hawaii,
the 12th was a New England division. The official figures
showed that. Sixty-eight per cent of the division was made up
of New England men. To be exact the proportions from
various states were :
Massachusetts 37 per cent or 10,360 men
Maine 18 per cent or 5,040 men
Indiana 6 per cent or 1,680 men
Connecticut 6 per cent or 1 ,680 men
New Jersey 4 per cent or 1,120 men
Vermont 4 per cent or 1,120 men
New Hampshire 3 per cent or 840 men
Oklahoma 3 P er cent or 840 men
Missouri 2 per cent or 560 men
New York 2 per cent or 560 men
Michigan 2 per cent or 560 men
Pennsylvania 2 per cent or 560 men
Ohio 2 per cent or 560 men
Iowa 2 per cent or 560 men
Scattered 7 per cent or 1,960 men
These figures are approximate, but they are substantially
correct, and they show that nearly 20,000 men, of the 28,000 in
the 12th Division, were New Englanders.
The organization of the 12th Division was outlined as
23d Infantry Brigade, consisting of the 36th Infantry, the
73d Infantry and the 35th Machine Gun Battalion.
FORGING THE SWORD 117
24th Infantry Brigade, consisting of the 42c! Infantry, the
74th Infantry and the 36th Machine Gun Battalion.
The 34th Machine Gun Battalion.
12th Artillery Brigade, consisting of the 34th, 35th and 36th
Field Artillery Regiments and the 12th Trench Mortar Battery.
The 212th Engineers, the 212th Field Signal Battalion, the
1 2th Supply, Sanitary and Headquarters Trains; the 245th,
246th and 247th Field Hospitals and the 245th, 246th and
247th Ambulance Companies.
Soon after the announcement of the table of organization of
the new Division, however, it was given out that, in accordance
with the War Department's newly adopted plan to centralize
the training of Divisional Artillery, Camp McClellan, Alabama,
would be the training area for the 12th Field Artillery Brigade
and the 12th Ammunition Train, and that these units would
be organized there. The men making up these units were not
New Englanders, and about all that the main body of the 12th
Division ever knew about its artillery was that the brigade
consisted of the 34th, 35th and 36th Field Artillery Regiments,
and that Brigadier-General G. R. Allen was in command.
This arrangement, which was not very popular, left only the
infantry and machine gun battalions, the engineers and other
auxiliary outfits of the division to train at Devens, and, before
the preparation of the division was completed, it was said by
many officers that the plan of having the artillery trained away
from the rest of the division was a poor one.
When the 76th Division departed, Colonel George L.
Byroade was left in command of Camp Devens. Lieutenant-
Colonel Frank B. Edwards acted as chief of staff, Major R. A.
Dunford as adjutant and Major E. L. Weiscopf, a Boston
lawyer, as judge advocate. This staff was only a temporary
one, appointed to administer the affairs of the cantonment
until the new commanding general should be appointed and
General Order No. I, 12th Division, was issued on July 30,
n8 FORGING THE SWORD
and the above staff, with several additions and one change, was
announced temporarily. Lieutenant-Colonel Condon C. Mc-
Cornack was announced as division surgeon, and he remained
so after the permanent staff was organized. Major Philip Stoll
was announced as judge advocate, and Major Barratt O'Hara
as assistant judge advocate. Both these officers were also
permanent. Major Weiscopf was made temporary division
It early became evident that the new division was to be
organized in a different manner from the 76th. Two Regular
Army regiments were assigned to Camp Devens, and around
these Regulars were built the two Infantry Brigades of the
new division. The Regulars were the 36th and 426. Infantry
The other two infantry regiments were created at Devens,
and acting under orders of the camp commander, Major
George C. Donaldson of Salem, organized the 74th Infantry,
while Major Arthur B. Hitchcock brought the 73d Infantry
into being. Both of these officers were drawn from the
Depot Brigade to carry on this work, and the manner in
which they did it brought them high praise. With the ar-
rival at camp, late in July, of the 426. Infantry, the 74th was
brigaded with the 42d to form the 24th Infantry Brigade,
and with the coming on August 13th of the 36th Infantry, the
73d combined with the newcomers to form the 23d Infantry
Brigade. Men were drawn liberally from the Depot Brigade
to form these two new regiments, and in one day 3,000 men
were transferred into the division.
In building the two new Infantry Brigades a new plan was
tried. From the two Regular Army regiments were taken a
certain number of non-commissioned officers and men as a
training nucleus around which the recruits transferred from
the Depot Brigade would be fitted in, and the combinations
whipped rapidly into high-class fighting units. From each
rifle company in the Regular Army outfits were transferred to
FORGING THE SWORD 119
the newly formed regiments three sergeants, seven corporals
and 30 selected privates first-class and privates. Among the
latter were experienced cooks, clerks, buglers, mechanics, wag-
oners, horseshoers and saddlers.
Brigadier-General John N. Hodges, the youngest brigadier-
general in the United States Army, the man who commanded
the famous regiment of American engineers that went to the
assistance of the British, armed only with picks and shovels and
what weapons they could find on the dead, and who were given
the credit of saving the day for the particular group of hard-
pressed British Tommies near Cambrai, was recalled from
France to take command of the 23d Infantry Brigade of this
new 1 2th Division. And how tickled the division was over
Brigadier-General John E. Woodward, a Vermonter by birth
and just returned from service in the Orient, took command of
the 24th Infantry Brigade. And pretty soon his fame as one
of the most genial and really humorous officers in the whole
division had spread all over camp.
Colonel Almon L. Parmerter, who brought the 36th Infantry
from Fort Snelling, remained in command of that regiment.
The 73d Infantry was commanded by Colonel James B.
Kemper; the 42d Infantry, by Colonel Osmun Latrobe, while
Colonel Oliver H. Dockery, Jr., who came to Camp Devens
and became temporary chief of staff, was given command of
the 74th Infantry.
The mixing up of what had heretofore been known as Na-
tional Army men and Regulars didn't bother either group very
much, for, while it was some time before they could forget
their old designations, those designations ceased to exist on
August 7. On that date the War Department issued the
1. This country has but one army — the United States Army. It in-
cludes all the land forces in the service of the United States. Those forces,
however raised, lose their identity in that of the United States Army. Dis-
120 FORGING THE SWORD
tinctive appellations, such as the Regular Army, Reserve Corps, National
Guard, and National Army, heretofore employed in administration and
command, will be discontinued, and the single term, the United States
Army, will be exclusively used.
2. Orders having reference to the United States Army as divided into
separate and component forces of distinct origin, or assuming or contem-
plating such a division, are to that extent revoked.
3. The insignia now prescribed for the Regular Army shall hereafter be
worn by the United States Army.
4. All effective commissions purporting to be, and described therein as,
commissions in the Regular Army, National Guard, National Army or the
Reserve Corps shall hereafter be held to be, and regarded as, commissions in
the United States Army — permanent, provisional or temporary, as fixed by
the conditions of their issue; and all such commissions are hereby amended
accordingly. Hereafter during the period of the existing emergency all
commissions of officers shall be in the United States Army and in staff corps,
departments and arms of the service thereof, and shall, as the law may pro-
vide be permanent, for a term, or for the period of the emergency. And
hereafter during the period of the existing emergency provisional and tem-
porary appointments in the grade of second lieutenant and temporary pro-
motions in the Regular Army and appointments in the Reserve Corps will
5. While the number of commissions in each grade and in each staff corps,
department and arm of the service, shall be kept within the limits fixed by
law, officers shall be assigned without reference to the term of their commis-
sions solely in the interest of the service; and officers and enlisted men will
be transferred from one organization to another as the interests of the
service may require.
6. Except as otherwise provided by law, promotion in the United States
Army shall be by selection. Permanent promotions in the Regular Army
will continue to be made as prescribed by law.
By order of the Secretary of War:
Peyton C. March,
General, Chief of Staff.
H. P. McCain,
The Adjutant General.
That was all right. Nobody cared much what designation
he fought under, as long as it had " U. S. " in it.
On August 17 the big news came. New England expected a
big man to be appointed to command the new division, but
© -ft ft-
Lt.-Col. R. H. Rolfe Lt.-Col. P. H. Stoll Lt.-Col. I. M. Unger
Maj. G C.Donaldson Maj. A. B. Hitchcock Maj. J. M. Day
Photo by Bm hr,i h, Boston
Capt. C. F. Reid
('apt. I'.. J. Hall Capt. Francis Harrigan
Major-General Henry P. McCain
Commander of the Plymouth (12th) Division
Maj. W. J. Fitzmaurice Lt.-Col. Ira A. Smith Maj. Chas.C.Quigley
Lt.-Col. G. T. Everett Maj. Edwards Capt. R. G. Sherman
Capt. Cockriel, M. P. Capt. C. B. MacNeill Capt. Tait
FORGING THE SWORD 121
even the most optimistic weren't prepared for what happened.
For, on August 17, came a dispatch from Washington saying
that Major-General Henry P. McCain, who had just completed
an appointment as The Adjutant General of the army, the man
who, with Major-General Enoch H. Crowder, was responsible
for much of the wonderful record America had made in the
World* War, in throwing what forces she had into the breach
quickly, was to organize and train the 12th Division.
And Camp Devens just cut loose and nearly went wild with
For during the years he had spent in the Adjutant-General's
Department at Washington the name "McCain" had become
known to almost everybody in the country. There was con-
siderable protest made — or there would have been had General
McCain permitted it — when it became known that the general
was going to forsake the post of The Adjutant General. Prac-
tically the whole Government hailed McCain as the "best
adjutant-general the United States ever had, " and they didn't
want to lose him.
Day and night this man had been at his desk in the War De-
partment, since the United States entered the war. He was
greedy for work. He couldn't be tired out. His administra-
tion of the Adjutant-General's Department was the most satis-
factory and efficient the Nation ever had. This was admitted
by everybody: congressmen, senators, military authorities —
everybody. He was one of the best loved men in Washington
and in the army. And he was to come to Camp Devens and
train a New England division! Some day the story of why
Henry P. McCain left Washington and came to New England
may be told.
Major-General McCain was born in Carroll County, Missis-
sippi, and, as soon as his age permitted, entered the Military
Academy at West Point, graduating from that school in 1885.
From then on he soldiered in the United States and in the
Philippines until he was transferred to the Adjutant-General's
122 FORGING THE SWORD
Department. And there they kept him for eighteen years
until, when the United States entered the World War, he was
made a major-general.
General McCain landed in Boston on August 20 and imme-
diately stepped into an automobile and drove to Camp Devens.
That he was happy to be given a division to organize and train,
with the possibility of leading men into battle, is undoubted.
He looked forward to it with pleasure, and he proposed to
build the best division in the army. His feelings, then, can be
imagined when, as he arrived at the main gate of Camp Devens,
he saw a group of horsemen waiting to receive him, and a
military band crashed forth a welcome to the new commanding
general. The horsemen — it was the Headquarters Troop of
the new 12th Division — fell in around his car, and with the
band playing, General McCain was triumphantly welcomed to
New England and to Camp Devens. The general brought
with him Lieutenant-Colonel John B. Shuman, who was to be
division adjutant, and Lieutenant-Colonel E. S. Adams, who
was named as assistant chief of staff. Colonel Oliver H.
Dockery, Jr., who was acting chief of staff was relieved, and
Colonel Abraham G. Lott, who had been one of General
McCain's assistants in Washington, was made chief of staff of
the 12th Division on August 22.
No general officer ever received a warmer welcome to a new
command than did Major-General McCain when he came to
New England. He didn't say much. He seldom does. But
he felt and thought a lot, and he just thanked everybody
briefly but sincerely, and remarked in his quiet, forceful way
that he was "with the 12th Division until torn away from it."
General McCain brought no aides-de-camp with him, but as
soon as he arrived at Devens, Lieutenant Augustus F. Doty of
Boston and Waltham (better known as "Gus" Doty, famous
Harvard athlete) was made aide-de-camp to the new command-
Other officers to arrive for the staff of the new division and
FORGING THE SWORD 123
to take command of organizations were: On August 19,
Colonel John D. Long was assigned to command the Train
Headquarters and Military Police. On August 24, Major
C. F. Holly was assigned to command the 34th Machine Gun
Battalion; Major G. E. Wilson to command the 36th Machine
Gun Battalion, and Major O. M. Dickerson to command the
35th Machine Gun Battalion. Lieutenant-Colonel Robert H.
Rolfe was officially announced as division quartermaster on
September 7, and on September 13, Major John L. Schock
became division dental surgeon. On September 23 Lieutenant-
Colonel Fred G. Miller became division signal officer. Colonel
Miller was relieved of this post on December 27 and Lieuten-
ant-Colonel Walter E. Pridgeon succeeded him.
Captain Frank Ward became acting assistant chief of staff
(G-2), on October 14, while four days later, October 18,
Colonel Max C. Tyler arrived at camp to take command of the
212th Engineers. On October 26, Lieutenant-Colonel George
T. Everett became assistant chief of staff (G~i), and, on
November 13, Major William J. Fitzmaurice was appointed
assistant chief of staff (G-3).
From the very moment General McCain arrived in camp the
entire command knew that he meant business. He was a
driver, a producer of results; but he drove his men humanely
and they loved him for it. It soon became known to every
officer and man in the 12th Division that the commanding gen-
eral asked only that every last man work as hard and faithfully
as the general did himself. Nothing more than this was re-
quired of anybody, as far as work was concerned. So, on the
very day General McCain arrived at Devens, schools were
started in the new division. The first two were the bayonet
and grenade schools.
The first week of General McCain's stay was spent in going
over the camp. He inspected every nook and corner of it. It
would almost be safe to say that there is not a building nor a
room in Camp Devens that he has not been in himself. And
124 FORGING THE SWORD
he wanted to know his men. He was out among them every
day and nearly all day. Before he had been there a month it is
absolutely certain that he could have taken the two stars off
his shoulders and gone out among his troops and they would
all have known who he was. He is a great believer in personal
contact, and his belief bore rich fruit in the 12th Division.
The foreign attaches were still at Camp Devens and they
started right in with the instruction of the new division, just as
they had with the 76th. But, on August 30, some help came
for them, for the 12th, it was generally known, was not to re-
main in training so long as the 76th ; not anywhere near so long.
So, on August 30, there arrived at camp 63 more overseas
instructors, fresh from the battlefields of France. They were
all Americans, noncommissioned officers who had "been through
the mill," and were highly trained specialists. The effect of
their arrival was electrical, and from September 1 the 12th Di-
vision buckled down to the hardest and stiff est kind of intensive
training ever known in this part of the country. McCain had
instilled a spirit into the division; the men had the Yankee
fighting spirit in their blood and a high sense of patriotic duty;
they were as husky a bunch of fighting material as could be
found anywhere in the world, and there was born in them a
determination to "deliver the goods" that could not and would
not and did not stop; nor could it be stopped by anything.
Fundamentally, the training of the 12th Division was about
the same as that of the 76th. In detail, however, there were
many differences. For one thing — and too much emphasis
cannot be laid on this — the 12th Division experienced the most
intensive training of any combat unit trained in New England.
The men transferred into the new division from the Depot
Brigade were all raw recruits, with no noncommissioned officers
to aid in drilling them. The comparatively few officers who
composed the commissioned personnel of the two new regiments
worked from dawn until dark in the sweltering heat. It
seemed that they were always out on the drill grounds teaching
FORGING THE SWORD 125
these willing recruits the art of being a soldier, and their efforts
bore wonderful fruit. With the coming of the two regiments
of Regulars, however, and the consequent augmentation of the
ranks of the 73d and 74th by officers and men already thor-
oughly trained, and in many instances noncommissioned offi-
cers who had already had their baptism of fire overseas, this
intensive training progressed even more rapidly than before.
Day by day the 12th Division improved, until very soon it was
evident to all that the outfit would not only be trained in record
time, but would develop into one of the prize combat divisions
in the entire American Army.
Some idea of the rapidity with which the training got under
way may be gained from a paragraph taken from the official
record of the training of the division. It reads:
The Infantry School of Arms was inaugurated August 22, 1918. From
August 22 to October 28, 1918, twenty-seven different schools were held,
graduating 563 officers and 1,327 enlisted men, making the total number
graduating from the schools, 1,890. In addition to the schools, under the
direction of the Infantry School of Arms, an Intelligence School of Applica-
tion was conducted under the supervision of the division intelligence officer
and proved highly successful.
In addition to these schools was the Senior and Staff Officers'
School of Instruction, which wassimilar to the school conducted
for the officers of the 76th, only instead of the course lasting for
three weeks, as in the case of the 76th Division, the course was
doubled for the 12th Division officers. There was also another
great difference between the two schools. The 76th Division
had its own artillery to work with. The 12th Division had
none. They did have two airplanes, however, which came
from Mineola, Long Island, New York, before the course was
completed and with the help of these planes considerable prob-
lem work was done. The lectures and field work of various
kinds gave the officers attending the school valuable knowledge
of the practical conduct of modern warfare.
The high lights in this marvelous progress could not better
126 FORGING THE SWORD
be shown than by again quoting from the official record of the
training of the 12th Division — a brief but concise memorandum
compiled at Division Headquarters by the officers who directed
and watched the training. This report only summarizes, but
in the following few paragraphs a story of wonderful military
achievement is tersely told :
The first month's training of the division personnel was devoted to basic
training in the essential principles as prescribed by the War Department,
with careful attention being paid to eliminating non-essentials and profiting
by the mistakes made in the training of old divisions.
The second month saw this basic training turn out officers and men
whose percentage of efficiency was very high, and platoon, company, and
battalion cohesion was given much attention. Much time was devoted to
training in gas defense and the use of the rifle and bayonet. Scores on the
rifle range indicated that the weapon of the infantry would play an impor-
tant part when the 12th Division finally got into action. The discipline and
military bearing of the soldiers was of the highest order, and surpassed even
the expectancy of the division staff officers.
The machine gun units, signal troops, and engineers, were progressing in
their combat training with the same degree of efficiency and speed. Every
week Division Headquarters prescribed the number of hours to be devoted
to each subject by the different units in their training, and schedules em-
bracing these hours were compiled by the commanding officers and submit-
ted for the approval of Division Headquarters. This system brought uni-
form methods and uniform results in the training so that all organizations
progressed on an even basis. The instructors being graduated from the
Infantry School of Arms returned to their organizations and imparted the
knowledge they had gained.
In the infantry organizations the following method of instruction was
Each of the four platoons in the rifle companies were divided into four
sections, keeping squad formations intact. Each platoon commander was
made a specialist in either bayonet fighting, hand and rifle grenades, auto-
matic rifle or drills, administration, gas, etc.
Each day at drill all of the first sections reported for bayonet drill, the
second sections for hand and rifle grenades, etc., and rotated thusly under
the respective specialists, thereby saving time in training in the division
schools. This was very effective in assuring uniformity in company train-
ing as each member was trained in the specialties by the same officer.
Officers' schools within the different organizations under the direct super-
FORGING THE SWORD 127
vision of the regimental and separate organization commanders were con-
ducted. Noncommissioned officers' schools within each regiment and
separate organization were also established.
Weekly record of progress was kept on cards furnished by the Infantry
School of Arms for this purpose, one card being made out by the corporal of
his squad each week and submitted to the platoon commander; another
card was made out each week by the platoon commander and submitted to
the company commander. This system proved valuable in helping the
company commander and higher commanders to determine the condition of
the company organizations.
Specialists in headquarters and supply companies, infantry and head-
quarters detachments were given special training, specially qualified officers
having been assigned to these.
The third month of training brought out excellent results in maneuvers,
cohesion and liaison in all units. Close order drills and deployments reached
a high percentage of efficiency. The training of all specialists and the tac-
tical use of such specialties gave every indication that the division would
soon be rated as ready. The combined training of the division was now
under way and this was demonstrated by the success of the various maneu-
The first field order of the 12th Division was issued for a division billeting
problem at Shaker Village on November 1.
Certainly New England had never seen anything to equal
this in the way of training men for war, and it is doubtful if
many people, except those who were taking part in this heart-
breaking grind, appreciated just what it all meant.
In one respect the 12th Division had much less to discourage
its personnel than the 76th Division. They knew they were
going to keep the men who had been poured into the ranks of
the various regiments, with the exception of the few hundreds
that were transferred to Officers' Training Schools. But, on
the other hand, they had obstacles to overcome that the 76th
did not have. One of these — and by far the most distressing
one — was an epidemic of Spanish influenza that caused nearly
half the entire division to be laid up in the hospital at one time.
IN THE GRIP OF THE "FLU"
As soon as General McCain got his schools running properly
and the men were " throwing their weight into the collar, " so to
speak, a review of the division was ordered. The general had
seen all there was to see of the camp and he had seen practically
every man in it at various times. Now he wanted to see them
all together. So the first review of the division was held on
September 14, less than a month after it had been organized.
Hundreds of people came to Camp Devens to see that review.
It was not yet believed that anything resembling soldiers could
be made in so short a time, and the public had a very earnest
desire to be shown. Well, they were shown, and they went
away wondering, for, as far as most lay people could see, this
first review of the 12th Division didn't differ so very much
from the last review of the 76th, except that there were more
men in the latter, inasmuch as the 12th Artillery Brigade
was training thousands of miles away from the Infantry
Brigades. The men marched and generally conducted them-
selves like veterans, thereby satisfying their officers and the
commanding general, though the latter, when asked what he
thought of the showing of his new command, replied that it was
fine, but "wait until the next one and see the difference."
It was just about this time that the Spanish influenza was
fastening its grip on the camp. The epidemic started so grad-
ually that few knew that it was upon us until it was raging.
On the day of the first review it was announced that there were
2,000 cases of the disease in camp, but as yet no deaths were
reported. The day following, however, two deaths were an-
nounced. The next day there were 3,000 cases of it and it was
announced that four men had died in the past twenty-four
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FORGING THE SWORD 129
hours. Twelve additional wards at the Base Hospital had to
be taken over to accommodate the sick men, and it was
thought that this was pretty bad!
On September 19, the town of Ayer was quarantined against
the soldiers. This was not so much to protect the soldiers as
to protect the civilians living near the camp, for civilian New
England was having a hard time with the influenza, whereas
the men in camp had the best possible medical attention. In
the cities and towns throughout New England the doctors were
so busy that the services of a physician were hard to get, for the
medical men were working day and night, with far more cases
on their hands than they could find time to attend. And
nurses were at a premium.
But still the number of cases in camp continued to grow.
From 3,000 to 5,000 to 7,000, clear up until at one time there
were more than 10,000 men being treated. And so the daily
death report continued to grow larger and larger, from three,
to five to twelve to fifteen to twenty and then to twenty-
eight daily. Then New England began to be really alarmed
at the situation at the cantonment. But as a matter of fact
the epidemic had about spent itself before the death list began
to swell to such alarming proportions. At the time when the
death list was highest there were fewer cases of influenza in
the hospital than when the daily death report showed less
than a dozen names. The reason for this was that thousands
of men were only in the hospital a few days, while most of
those who succumbed to the disease were ill for several days
before they reached the crisis.
But despite the frightful handicap imposed by the epidemic,
the training of the division went on just the same. It had to.
And the medical officers had decided that to continue the train-
ing was the best possible thing for the men. It kept them out
in the open air — one of the surest preventives — and also dis-
tracted their attention from what was going on around them.
This policy unquestionably saved many lives.
i 3 o FORGING THE SWORD
And, among other things, the influenza epidemic showed the
men of the 12th Division the true caliber of their commanding
general. For he personally directed the fight against the plague,
assisted and advised, of course, by Lieutnenat-Colonel Condon
C. McCornack, his division surgeon, and Lieutenant-Colonel
Channing Frothingham of Boston, commander of the Base
The general had these two officers worried. They were
worried about the general himself, for he insisted on spending
the greater part of the daylight hours at the hospital, going
around among the men, talking to them and cheering them up.
He scorned to wear a mask to protect himself. He was build-
ing spirit among the sick, spirit with which to fight this plague
that seemed to sap the vitality from a man as no other disease
did. And so, calmly, cheerfully and kindly, he went his way
through the hospital wards, among the dead and the dying,
talking to these lads, asking them all the little personal, inti-
mate questions one of their own would ask and seeing to it that
they got everything that could possibly be given them. Then,
as night drew on, he went back to his office on Headquarters
Hill, where all through the day the work had been piling up,
and there he worked far into the night, attending to the vast
amount of detail attached to getting his division into shape to
go to France. He didn't have to spend this time in the hos-
pital. There was no rule nor regulation that called upon him
to do it. But he wanted to save every life that could possibly
be saved, and he wanted to be sure that everything that could
be done was being done, so he went himself to see about it.
And he knew, too, that most of these men were going to get
well, that when they recovered they would remember that
their general stuck by them when they were in a tight place and
that they would be eager to do the same by him. This is only
one of the things that built for Major-General McCain the
loyalty of every man under his command.
As September drew to a close the daily death toll grew. On
FORGING THE SWORD 131
September 23 there were 63 deaths, on September 24 there
were 66, on the 25th there were 77, on the 26th there were 60,
on the 27th there were 81, the highest daily death toll during
the epidemic. From that time on the daily death list de-
creased, 56, 45, 29, 30, 14, 17, 14, eight, and so on until the
pre-epidemic average was reached, which was only one or
two a week.
In all there were about 800 nurses, officers and men who
succumbed to the epidemic, a low figure compared to the
harvest of the grim reaper in other camps and in many civilian
After days and nights of the bitterest kind of fighting, Camp
Devens had won its first victory. The Spanish influenza was
completely stamped out and Camp Devens was one of the
cleanest and healthiest spots in New England.
It was a victory won with the sacrifices that attach to all
real victories. From the time the epidemic broke out approxi-
mately 14,000 men were in hospital with influenza and pneu-
monia at Camp Devens. One out of every 18 of these cases
There were undoubtedly hundreds of cases of great sacrifice
and devotion passed by unnoticed, except by a very few. But
there are other cases of both women and men who did their
duty and a lot besides that came to the attention of the authori-
ties, and many of these went on record.
The whole battle to rid the camp of Spanish influenza is a
story of never-ending toil, of sleepless days and nights, of heroic
devotion to duty, of weary, heavy-lidded, dogged resistance
against an unseen and practically unknown foe; of calm and
patient women, working on sheer nerve, of brave but in-
experienced men, setting their hand to a task and struggling
to absorb a knowledge of their work as they felt their way
along, and of overworked physicians, fighting, fighting, fight-
ing and never ceasing to fight until every single man had
132 FORGING THE SWORD
It was a struggle, in which the members of the Army Medical
Corps lived up to the best and highest traditions of the
The base hospital contained 1,800 beds when the epidemic
descended upon it. At the height of the epidemic there were
close to 10,000 patients and through it all the base hospital
kept 1,000 beds ahead of the need.
When the epidemic started there were some 200 nurses, in-
cluding the members of the Nurses' Training School, at the
Base Hospital. Almost over night there were more patients in
the hospital than it would seem humanly possible for 200
nurses to take care of. They kept going, however, and every
man was cared for before a single nurse rested.
There were enough doctors to care for any reasonable num-
ber of patients that might be expected to be in the hospital at
one time. But when the deluge came the doctors showed
themselves to be of the same stuff as did the nurses.
As the epidemic developed there was no such thing as enough
nurses and doctors. The hospital used every last one that
could be procured, and still more were needed. But those who
were on duty did the work of two and three, and somehow
every patient was cared for.
As quickly as it could be secured, assistance was brought in
from the outside. This help consisted of both military and
civil. Army doctors and nurses were rushed from other camps
and army posts. Offers of help from civilian organizations all
over New England began to come in, and many of them were
accepted. Every one who could help and who wanted to, came
pretty near having a chance to make good. And most of
Five girls who were serving their country at the Camp
Devens Base Hospital made the supreme sacrifice; they con-
tracted the disease they were fighting and died. They died the
death of a soldier. They stuck to their posts until the end,
without a thought of themselves and with only their duty in
FORGING THE SWORD 133
mind. When the decline in the epidemic came there were 400
nurses at the hospital.
Two doctors gave their lives, also. One of them, Captain
Charles A. Sturtevant of Manchester, New Hampshire, lost his
life because he stuck to his post after he was ill himself. That
his work for his country was appreciated by his Government
was evidenced by the fact that his promotion to the rank of
major arrived at Camp Devens the day after he died. Lieuten-
ant Thomas R. Ferguson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the
other doctor to succumb to the influenza.
It would be impossible to give individual credit everywhere
it is due, because, from the highest officers right down to the
lowliest private, every last man and woman in camp did his and
her duty. The men of the Sanitary Train were called upon to
help, and Lieutenant-Colonel McCornack, the division surgeon,
paid them high tribute for the manner in which they "went
through." Colonel McCornack had been at that time about
eleven years in the service, and during that time he had fought
just about every kind of disease there is to fight, including an
epidemic of black smallpox in China. And he knows service
when he sees it. After the influenza epidemic had been con-
quered at Camp Devens, he told what he thought of these men:
We had to take men from the Sanitary Train and send them to the Base
Hospital for duty. Most of these men were new to the service and they
didn't know anything about hospital work.
They were told what they were up against. They knew that many of
them were going to contract the disease and that some of them would die.
But when they knew that men were dying at the hospital because their help
was needed, and when the order came to go up there for duty, not a man of
them so much as looked back.
And some did contract the disease and some of them did die, but they
knew that it was part of the army game and they did it willingly and gladly,
like true soldiers. They are just as truly heroes as though their lives had
been given on the battlefields of France.
Ordinarily there isn't any special credit due a man for doing his duty, but
certainly a word of commendation and praise is due these boys who were
green at the game, but who were willing to play it to the best of their ability.
134 FORGING THE SWORD
Ambulance drivers, orderlies, nurses and doctors — the story
is the same from beginning to end. Every last one in the
service vindicated the faith placed in him by his country and
by his commanding officers. They showed the true spirit of
America, that spirit before which nothing but the clear, bright
flame of freedom and democracy can hope to stand.
The Red Cross lived up to its highest traditions also. They
had a recreation building for convalescent Base Hospital
patients right beside the hospital, and that building was turned
over to the forces that were fighting the plague. The Red
Cross also supplied much medical material to the military au-
thorities, and the workers were devoting themselves day and
night to the sick men and to the relatives of those men who
were hurrying toward Devens from almost every state in
The Knights of Columbus turned their Base Hospital
building over to the military authorities for the housing of
sick men and they devoted another building to the use of
relatives of the men, housing them there during the crisis of
The Hostess House, which was early established at Camp
Devens by the Young Women's Christian Association and was
under the supervision of Miss Annette Griggs, became a large
dormitory for the accommodation of people whose loved ones
were facing the Hereafter up at the hospital, and the Hostess
House also ran a motor bus to the hospital for the benefit of
fathers and mothers of sick boys.
It was the same with the Y. M. C. A., as with all the rest of
the welfare organizations. Their Base Hospital hut became a
ward, and the secretaries devoted themselves to the sick and
Perhaps no one worked any harder than did the chaplains.
These big-hearted men practically lived in the wards, comfort-
ing the dying, writing letters for the men, guiding frantic
parents through the lines of cots in the hospital, which filled
FORGING THE SWORD 135
even the corridors, and doing a thousand and one things to be
For the chaplains in this army that we raised were general
utility men, friends of the soldiers who could be called on for
anything that might come up where an outside and disinter-
ested party was necessary. They did everything from per-
forming marriage ceremonies to judging a broncho-breaking
contest, from writing musical comedies for the men to act to
refereeing basketball and baseball games. There were no
better loved men at Camp Devens than the "sky pilots."
And perhaps right here may be mentioned what was con-
sidered by many one of the crowning achievements of one of
these soldier parsons, though chronologically it is a little out
of place in this narrative. After their long battle with the
influenza, on top of their intensive training, which was halted
by the coming of peace, the regiments of the 12th Division
vied with each other for supremacy in sports, drills, music,
education, all kinds of contests, and finally in the matter of
The writer of this story is not sufficiently versed in the fine
points of drama and music to dare to name the leading regi-
ment of the division in the histrionic field, but certainly no
chronicle of the events at Camp Devens would be complete
without mentioning the final big show of the 73d Infantry.
The 74th Infantry produced a revue in the fall of 19 18 that
created a sensation in camp. It was shown at the Liberty
Theater, and was a huge success, as there was plenty of talent
of all kinds in every outfit. Straightway the 73d set out to go
the 74th one better, and in this they were most heartily sup-
ported by their commanding officer, Colonel James B. Kemper.
The regiments had considerable funds, collected for the bene-
fit of the men when they got overseas. These had to be dis-
posed of, for the benefit of the men, before demobilization or
they were to be turned into the treasury of the United States.
So the 73d decided to spend some of their money on a "regular
136 FORGING THE SWORD
show." One of their chaplains happened to be a particularly
accomplished man; apparently a sort of jack-of-all-trades. He
was Father John F. Conoley, formerly of St. Augustine, Florida,
and, before he left the service, camp chaplain at Devens. To
him fell the task of writing a show for the 73d, and with a will
he set himself to do it.
On January 27 and 28, 1919, "Cho Cho Sin," a musical tale
of the east, was presented by one of the finest amateur theatri-
cal companies ever seen in Massachusetts. It was written and
produced for General McCain. The men did the work. They
built their own scenery, wrote much of their own music.
Chaplain Conoley furnished the lines. Mrs. Kemper, wife of
the "K. O.," assisted by Mrs. P. J. H. Farrell and Mrs. E. H.
Adams, provided the costumes. The spirit of the regiment,
which was to be found in every regiment of the 12th, did
The special music was composed by Sergeant George R.
Tompkins, bandmaster of the 73d. The show was produced
under the direction of Lieutenants Charles A. Lee and C. F.
Kirschler. Sergeant "Ted" Stanley painted the scenery and
the posters for the outside of the theater. The star of the pro-
duction was Private F. T. LeM. Easter, before the war a mem-
ber of the Russian Ballet, and one of the most accomplished
actors to be found in camp.
For two nights and one matin6e the show played to packed
houses. But to the officers and men in camp the opening per-
formance was the biggest and best of all. For just before the
curtain went up that night the men of the 73d, through Chap-
lain Conoley, paid their own public tribute to their command-
ing general, who was present, as he always was, to see the
efforts of his boys, and to applaud them.
Just before the lights were dimmed Chaplain Conoley ap-
peared before the curtain. He raised his hand for silence, and
then in a quiet but sincere voice told General McCain how
much the men of the 12th Division thought of their chief. He
General Edwards and Governor McCall Visit Devens
General Edwards of the Y-l) Saluted the Colors of tui Plym<
Division, and Then Said He I 'ndeksiood Win hie ( ".erm an-- uii i
"The 12111 Was Coming"
Colonel Byroade, Lieutenant Parker, General McCain and Major
Hitchcock and the Colors of the Plymouth (i2th) Division
Photo by A. I.. Belcher, Globe
Major Barratt O'Hara Appeals for Support of the Liberty Loan
I. clt to right: Major O'Hara, General McCain, Colonel Lott,
Colonel Adams, Captain Cape
The Aviators Were About the Only Ones Who Looked Down on
Captain Livingston Swentzel, Observer, and Liei i i \ \\ i "Rube
Moffat, Pilot, in One of the Airplanes Thai Were
Stationed \i Devens
FORGING THE SWORD 137
voiced, also, what the men of the division had felt throughout
their service, though few were able to express it in words.
Chaplain Conoley said:
Ladies and Gentlemen — It gives us great happiness to greet you — to have
you as our guests this evening while we turn from the sterner duties
that are incumbent upon us to frolic and play for your entertainment.
And we are, indeed, happy that you are here to help us pay tribute to
one who holds our admiration, our respect, and our affectionate esteem.
And since this is his play, in that it was planned, evolved, and produced
in his honor, I am sure you will all pardon me if I address myself directly
to General McCain.
Sir — I trust you will accept this small effort made by the men of the 73d
as a proof of the affection we all have for you. We came to this camp and
into this Plymouth Division very raw material — poor soldiers. But we all
brought with us the determination to lay upon the altar of possible sacrifice
that which all men hold most dear — our lives. Day after day we were
trained in the ways of war under your guidance and direction; day after
day we felt the small things of life fall away from us, felt the urge of that
manliness and generosity that is characteristic of the trained and disciplined
soldier, realized our own deficiencies, and did what I think we can truthfully
call our honest best to measure up to the standard that was set for us higher
up. The result has been that every man of us is leaving the division with a
bigger, broader mind and heart, motived to the bigger things of life by
discipline and devotion to duty actuated by principle. The things we have
learned here will influence our very thought in after days, make us better
men, and give the Nation nobler, better, citizens.
Example, Sir, is the most potent factor in life — we pattern ourselves,
almost unconsciously, after those who command our respect and esteem.
And your share in our life here was a powerful incentive to greater develop-
ment because we knew well that nothing in the way of sacrifice or devotion
to duty was asked of us that was not first done at Division Headquarters by
the commanding general.
We are proud to have it said of us that we are " McCain's men of the 12th."
We are sorry beyond words that we had no opportunity to express in vivid
action our real devotion to your person. And, since we are so soon to be
separated, we felt that we must do some little thing that would in some small
way tell you of our regard. This evening's play is the result.
Sir, this is all a tribute to you! These men have worked night and day
for a week — sometimes all night — in order to greet you here with this per-
formance. When the news came of our departure, the cast of the play
declared its unwillingness to leave until we should give this expression of our
i 3 8 FORGING THE SWORD
esteem for you. It is the tribute of the men of the 73d to their commanding
And so we are to take you tonight far from military terms and affairs and
raise the curtain upon ancient Bagdad, while girls dance and boys sing and
love and comedy and tragedy are all portrayed in brilliant costume — and it
is all for you. We thank you for your share in our lives here, for your part
in the new breadth of mind and heart that has come to us all — a breadth of
thought that will go, only God knows how far, to make this world a better
place to live in. We have learned the real meaning of those magic words
"the service" — and we leave the army not as men who turn from a stern
and distasteful duty to more pleasant tasks, but as men who are better men
from having lived for a time heart to heart with those exponents of service
and devotion to duty who make up the armed service of these United States.
As the play proceeds and you are amused, let this thought attend you
— that every word of the play, every stick of the scenery, every bit of cos-
tume, is a material proof of the affection we have for you — the commanding
general of the 12th Division.
That expressed it. The spirit was there. Everybody saw
it. And it was such doctrines as this that the army chaplains
at Camp Devens sought to instill into the men — the strong,
manly doctrines of real Americans. They all helped, every
last parson. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why the
chaplains of the 12th Division were so popular.
THE 12TH DIVISION BREAKS SOME RECORDS
On September 22 General McCain sent out a request through
the camp for an appropriate name for the 12th Division.
Every officer and man was invited to suggest one, which, ac-
cording to the request, should be short, snappy and appropriate.
There were some interesting suggestions made, of course.
There couldn't help being, with 30,000 brains conjuring up all
kinds of queer and ludicrous names for the outfit. As a matter
of fact nearly 150 suggestions were made. Among them being
such names as "The Do or Die Division, " "The Hell Roarers, "
"The Midnight Division," "The Terrible Twelfth," "The
Dirty Dozen," etc. Perhaps none caused more mirth, how-
ever, than the suggestion that the 12th Division go across under
the name of "McCain's Dutch Cleansers."
But it was General McCain who finally named the outfit,
though the name he chose was suggested by several others, also.
He decided to call it "The Plymouth Division," inasmuch as
the division was training in the Pilgrim country and the name
was so typically American. The selection pleased every one,
and from the time it was made until the big fighting machine
passed out of existence the name was used even more than the
At the same time an official insignia was designed at the order
of General McCain. Captain Henry Cape, Jr., the general's
senior aid, had much to do with making the design. It con-
sisted of a bayonet running through the figures 12, the com-
bination being superimposed on a diamond-shaped background
with two stars. It was both artistic and significant.
Devens, from the time General McCain took command,
seemed always to be the cantonment picked out for any new
140 FORGING THE SWORD
experiment. And usually the experiment worked. It was so
with the first Noncommissioned Officers' Training School to be
established in the whole United States Army — a place where
likely men could be sent, and after a few weeks' training be
qualified to take up the important duties of a noncommissioned
For a good noncom. is even as a pearl without price. Usually
they graduate from the school of years of experience. But
there was a crying need for them in this new army of ours, and
something had to be done about it. A young man named
Major Edwin F. Harding was placed in command of the school.
He selected 20 of the best qualified men from each company in
the Depot Brigade, gathered together a group of experienced
officers and started to make ready-to-wear, 100 per cent
efficient, noncommissioned officers. And the experiment
worked. It worked so well that had the war gone on these
schools would have been established all over the country at
the various training camps.
As each experiment proved successful the entire cantonment
seemed to glory in its success. The spirit and team work that
was evident so soon after the formation of the division grew
along with the efficiency of the big machine, and every incident
big enough to attract the attention of any considerable group
of men in the outfit almost immediately aroused the interest of
the whole camp. It was nothing to be surprised at, then, that
on the last day of September, just as retreat sounded, about
every road leading to the main parade field was choked with
racing men as two specks appeared in the sky above the camp.
It was the arrival of the two airplanes referred to.
Like giant eagles they floated down out of the sky, and they
were forced to circle the field several times at a very low alti-
tude, while a squad of M. P. 's cleared the enthusiastic dough-
boys off the field in order to give the planes a chance to make
their landing without endangering the lives of about half of the
men of the 12th Division. As they taxied across the field
FORGING THE SWORD 141
and finally came to rest opposite the Division Officers' Club
the men swarmed around them and watched the aviators
alight. The planes had flown from Mineola — 225 miles away
— in two hours and ten minutes.
Both planes were equipped with wireless, and it was the use of
that wireless that was to prove invaluable to the training. The
two planes worked with the school over the Still River battle-
fields, reporting enemy positions, directing the fire of imaginary
artillery and communicating all sorts of information to the
school while the planes were still high in the air. This was done
by having a mobile wireless station on the battle grounds. The
planes also took pictures of "enemy" positions, flew back to
camp with the negatives, delivered them at the topographical
office where they were developed, and one hour after the pic-
tures had been taken the prints were in the hands of the mem-
bers of the school who were still out on the combat ranges.
This was all done under the direction of Captain Michaud of
the French Army, a liaison expert.
The effect that can be obtained from a brief period of 21
days of real hard training was never better shown than by the
second review of the 12th Division, which was held on October
5. Even to comparatively inexperienced eyes the difference in
the appearance of the men was positively amazing. Officers
of the Depot Brigade, who had been at Camp Devens all
through the training of the 76th Division and who watched it
grow and improve many, many times, after having been
stripped of its best men, remarked that the manner in which
the Plymouth Division picked up was the most startling thing
they had seen in their military careers.
And following the second review of the division General
McCain said that even his expectations had been surpassed.
He said that these reviews would be held frequently, not only
to enable the staff to keep familiar with the stages the training
had reached, but also for the sake of the men, for it is an estab-
lished fact that there is no better morale builder for troops in
142 FORGING THE SWORD
training than to let them see as often as possible the improve-
ment in themselves.
It is not necessary to recount step by step the training of the
Plymouth Division. They covered every bit of ground cov-
ered by the 76th, and in fifteen weeks trained to a point where
they were ready for overseas service. It was the quickest
trained division New England ever turned out, and, according
to the reports made by high foreign officers, it was one of the
six best divisions in the whole United States Army.
Of course this did not mean that when the armistice was
signed the 12th Division was ready to take its place in the
battle lines. It meant that the division had completed its pre-
liminary training and was ready for transport to France, where
it would enter on the last stage of its training, when the Infan-
try Brigades would hook up with the Artillery Brigade, and the
two arms would tear through a final training that would send
them up to the fighting front right on the crest of their highest
point of efficiency and morale. This was the plan, apparently,
and the 12th was one of nearly a dozen divisions so trained.
As a matter of fact the officers from the Inspector General's
Department in Washington had completed their inspection of
the division just prior to the cessation of hostilities. No one is
supposed to know what the inspectors think of an outfit, but
on the day these officers left Camp Devens having dictated
their report on the division and sent it to Washington by tele-
graph, it was whispered that the report was one of the most
enthusiastic that was ever made during the war on any division.
Everybody around camp knew they were going. The offi-
cers were buying their overseas equipment. (Many an officer of
the Plymouth Division has in his possession to this day a Sam
Browne belt and overseas cap that he was never privileged to
wear, though he had to pay for it.) The baggage was being
packed and stenciled. The end of November would probably
have seen the whole division in France. Reports had been
received from the Artillery Brigade in the South that it was
FORGING THE SWORD 143
in just as fine shape as the Infantry. Everybody was in the
highest of spirits.
Then came the armistice!
Things had been breaking fast in Europe, but few at Camp
Devens had had time to notice. The Allies were sweeping for-
ward in an irresistible wave, carrying everything before them.
The Americans were covering themselves with glory and driv-
ing the Germans on and on, back toward their own borders.
The Plymouth Division was just aching to get in on it.
The advance school detachment of the 12th Division, those
who go on before and pave the way for the main body, had
reached France, though they had to turn right around and
come back again. But at least a part of the Plymouth Division
had reached foreign soil.
And even when the armistice was signed it was not at all
certain for some time that the 12th Division wouldn't go any-
way. That was their hope, and they did not relax one bit in
their training and preparations until orders came for them to
do so. On the day the signing of the armistice was announced
General McCain said :
This is the time for cool heads. Until we receive orders to the contrary
we shall continue to train just as hard as though the Boche was still to be
met. No one can tell what will develop on the other side. No man can
say what conditions will have to be met and dealt with in the enemy's
territory. The simple signing of an armistice, while hostilities have ceased
and will probably not be resumed, does not affect the I2th Division in the
least. We shall carry on. There must be no letting up until orders to do
so are received.
I have great confidence in this Division. It is the best any man could
desire to command. I know that these men of mine are going to see this
thing in the proper light and that they will continue to prepare, prepare,
prepare until the last crisis has been passed, just as they would have fought,
fought, fought until the last victory was won. That is the spirit that per-
meates the 1 2th Division. We shall carry on!
And the division did carry on, right up to the time orders
came for demobilization. There was a gradual let down in the
training, of course, but the men were kept busy, just the same.
144 FORGING THE SWORD
Those who were in camp on the night of the signing of the
armistice saw something nobody had ever seen at the canton-
ment before. For despite the fact that the men were eager to
get across, there was joy in the hearts of all. And they cut
loose and showed it. The war was over. Pretty soon,
probably, they would have a chance to get back to their
homes and to peaceful civilian pursuits. And so they cele-
brated. There were parades and there was singing and shout-
ing and general rejoicing all over camp.
Boston newspapers were rushed to Devens on special trucks
and these were snatched up by the men eagerly. They wanted
to know all about it. And when they read the brief dispatches,
they began celebrating all over again. Another celebration was
going on out at the camp where the German prisoners were
confined, eight miles from the cantonment proper. They
heard about it too, and they wildly demonstrated their joy at
the defeat of their All Highest, though it was really delight at
the knowledge that hostilities had ceased, and soon they would
be released and allowed to go back to their homes and families,
which they had not seen in four years.
The problem then was how to keep the Camp Devens men
contented until such time as the vast war machine could be
thrown into reverse and could be started unmaking the army
it had taken all these months to make. Obviously it would be
childish to make men go on with intensive training when they
knew that they would not be likely ever to have a chance to
put that training into practice. But they must be kept busy,
for idleness breeds discontent.
Athletics played no small part in keeping the men busy.
From the time it was founded Camp Devens devoted much
time to sports, and some of the finest teams in New England
were gathered together in this camp during the war. Athletic
officers were appointed from the very beginning, and to them
fell the task of organizing and training teams and arranging
FORGING THE SWORD 145
The first athletic officer appointed at Devens was well known
throughout the country, Captain Richard F. Nelligan, who was
appointed to direct the athletics of the entire cantonment.
Lieutenant Robert C. Deming was athletic officer for the 76th
Division, and with the departure of that unit Captain F. S.
Mathewson became athletic officer for the entire camp. On
the appointment of Captain Charles Coolidge to the post of
camp athletic director, Captain Mathewson became athletic
officer of the Depot Brigade.
Throughout the entire training of troops at Devens inter-
regimental competitions in baseball, basketball, soccer, boxing,
volley ball, football, and all the other favorite sports of Ameri-
can young manhood formed a large part of the men's amuse-
ments. Four baseball leagues were formed in the Depot Bri-
gade — the National, American, Southern and Federal — and
twilight baseball games were played every night during the
Boxing matches in which professionals from outside the
camp were pitted against soldiers were held in the Y auditorium
every Thursday night, and these fights never failed to draw
big crowds. Then, too, boxing was taught the men as part of
their military training, and a boxing tournament in which
every man in the cantonment was to participate was arranged.
The football championship of the Depot Brigade for the
season of 1918 was won by the nth Battalion after one of the
bitterest fights ever witnessed on any gridiron in camp, and
there were many. After playing two no score games with the
5th Battalion for the championship, the nth Battalion carried
off the honor by a score of 19 to o. The victory was largely due
to Sergeant Howard Coughlin, who kicked four field goals.
The championship was won in the presence of the entire Depot
Brigade, and General McCain and his staff were also present.
The All-Camp-Devens team of 191 8 was one of the best
football teams in the army and it finished the season as the
champion team of the Fast. It defeated Brown University,
146 FORGING THE SWORD
20 to 7; the Garden City Aviators, 21 to o; the Harvard Radio
School, io to 0; and the Camp Merritt team, 13 to 7.
The team included many prominent college players, such as
Captain George Hoban of Dartmouth and Lehigh; Sergeant
Jack Malone of Syracuse; Lieutenant Seeley of Washington
and Lee; Lieutenant Cobb and Sergeant Davis of University
of Maine; Lieutenant Robbins of Tufts College; Lieutenant
Taylor of the University of Texas; Captain Kusche of the New
York A. C; Lieutenant Burke of Holy Cross; Captain Jack
Maguire (since deceased) who was a member of the All-America
Army team for several years; Lieutenant Mulcahey of George-
town; Lieutenant McGrath of the University of Minnesota;
Corporal Thomas of the University of Nebraska, and Corporal
Redman of Norwich University.
So well did the athletic officers perform their task that it was
hard to find a day or night when some kind of an athletic con-
test was not in progress in camp.
And so, gradually, the activities were shifted from intensive
training for active service to training for their return to civilian
life. And now that they had time to spare it was decided to
give the home folks an opportunity to see what these men had
learned in the few short weeks they had been training, and a
three-day military carnival to which all New England was in-
vited was staged on November 25, 26 and 27.
Before the carnival was held the first orders on the discharge
of men had come through, and the program for getting rid of
the soldiers at Camp Devens could be fairly well surmised.
The first men to go were all "enemy aliens" who, while in-
ducted into the service, had been shifted into the development
battalions and were in reality just about "earning their keep"
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
On November 18 orders came from the Adjutant-General's
Office in Washington to the effect that the clearing out of Camp
Devens would begin with the Depot Brigade. This organiza-
tion, consisting of thirteen battalions, or 52 companies, was to
be reduced to four battalions. The best men in the brigade
were to be transferred to these four battalions and the rest were
to be discharged from the service. It was then obvious that
the Depot Brigade was to be used as a mill for the discharge of
returning soldiers. Because of the vast amount of paper work
attached to such a program, however, it was some time before
demobilization actually started.
It was not until November 29 that the first men were
actually discharged from the service under demobilization or-
ders. They went out through the same building they had
entered, by the " receiving station " in the Depot Brigade, and
once the authorities started sending them out the work went
on with a rush. Again Camp Devens led the way with an
efficient system for discharging these men.
Captain George C. Tait, the camp personnel adjutant, sub-
mitted the basis of the plan that was finally adopted, and this
plan was improved upon and details added until Camp Devens
later broke all records in the American Army for the daily dis-
charge of troops. The men signed their final statements, re-
ceived their discharges, drew their pay and travel money, and
bought their railroad tickets all in one building, being passed
from window to window in a never-ending stream. Lieutenant
R. J. Cotter had actual charge of the discharging station, and
the machine worked as smooth as grease.
But this army was not just being thrown out into the world
148 FORGING THE SWORD
again, as a big machine might be "junked." It was being
taken apart piece by piece, each part being labelled and laid
away for future use, in case such use was necessary. Each
man was physically examined when he entered the service and
each man was physically examined before he left. His entire
record, up to the last day he was in the army, was kept and
later sent to Washington, where it still is, ready at any moment
to be drawn out again in case of an emergency. It is much
easier to tear down than it is to build up; that is, as a general
rule. But in this case the tearing down was almost as big a
job as the building.
These men, who had come into the army singing and shout-
ing and ready for anything, went out just the same way. The
experience had broadened out the country boy. It had made
the city lad a little more tolerant. There isn't much doubt
that — though many didn't like cantonment life very well — it
made them just a little bit better citizens than they would have
been otherwise. And so, as they came in, they went out with
a song on their lips and in their souls; conscious, whether they
had been across and met the enemy face to face or not, that
they had "done their bit."
The breaking up of the Plymouth Division started before the
orders to demobilize that unit were issued. It started on the
first day of December, when orders were received to send
the 42d Infantry to Camp Upton, at Yaphank, Long Island,
New York. They were ordered there for duty as guards.
The order came unexpectedly, but General McCain resolved
that before the parting came the division should be gathered
together at least once more. And it was gathered together,
gathered in the most unusual way ever heard of at Camp
Devens. The general found, some distance away from the
camp, a natural amphitheater, a bowl between several New
England hills. This he had cleared of all trees and under-
brush, so that men could be massed in it. It was here that he
had decided to say farewell to his command, this wonderful
FORGING THE SWORD 149
fighting machine he had constructed and had learned to love
On December 3, the 20,000 men of the Plymouth Division at
Camp Devens marched across country to this bowl, and regi-
ment by regiment, battalion by battalion and company by
company, were poured into it. They just about filled it to the
brim. In the exact center of the bowl a huge staging had been
erected. When, after two hours, the division was finally ar-
ranged, a picture of the entire 20,000 was taken, a picture so
large and with every face so clear that, with the assistance of a
small reading glass, it was possible to pick out almost every
officer and man in it. It was one of the most remarkable of
And to any one who happened to be present it was a picture
that scarcely needed to be recorded by camera for it will re-
main indelibly printed in his memory. From the bottom of
the bowl, clear to the top, banked solid, were khaki-clad men.
At the top, silhouetted against a gray sky, were the horsemen
of the military police, together with the regimental and Na-
tional colors. Down in front, headed by Bandmaster Modeste
Alloo, director of camp music, were the massed bands of the
division, some 250 pieces. Just in front of them was Major-
General McCain, the two brigadier-generals and the head-
Then came one of the most truly remarkable and thrilling
moments in the history of the division. The general turned
and faced his men. A trumpet shrilled piercingly clear, calling
the entire command to attention. The sky was gray and
overcast — a dull day. Bandmaster Alloo raised his baton. It
descended with a sweep and that wonderful band crashed into
"The Star Spangled Banner." With the first note of the
National anthem the sun burst through the clouds in all its
glory, flooding the bowl with its brilliance and causing the
silken flags along the hilltop to flash out in a blaze of color al-
150 FORGING THE SWORD
The entire division was standing at salute. The mighty
voice of the band carried the anthem right through to the end,
while tears rolled down the cheeks of many an officer and man
who had come almost to worship this great big human machine.
They would never be together like this again! This was the
last time! In a few moments it would all be over!
As the last note died away and 20,000 arms dropped to 20,000
sides, General McCain stepped forward. His heart was pretty
full. His voice was a little husky with emotion. He had to
say goodbye. He was saying farewell to the division he had
organized and trained and watched and cared for and loved.
It was hard. He didn't try to orate. He just talked to
his boys. And he didn't talk long.
This is probably the last time the division will be together. You have
performed your duties like Americans, like the real soldiers you are. But
even now you should hold yourselves in readiness and not be caught unpre-
pared. No one can say what important work you may be called upon to
undertake before the task of America is finally completed.
But whether you are asked to perform further service or whether you go
to your homes I want you always to keep in your hearts the lessons you
have learned in the army, to keep clean bodies, clean minds and never relin-
quish your high sense of loyalty to our Government.
That was about all, and when he stopped speaking a cheer
went up that fairly rocked the countryside. Hats went into
the air, thousands of them. It was a tribute to a great com-
mander by a great division. Then the men marched back to
On the day following the farewell the 42d Infantry was the
guest of honor of the entire camp. All duty was suspended
after 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and Colonel Kemper led his
73d Infantry down the main parade field in one of the snap-
piest regimental reviews that had been seen in some time. It
was for the benefit of the departing 42d, and following the re-
view there was a reception by the officers of the rest of the can-
tonment to the officers of the 42d. While this reception was
going on the horses and mules and heavy baggage of the 42d
FORGING THE SWORD 151
were being loaded preparatory to the departure of the regiment
on the morrow.
On the same day that the 426. departed, the first detach-
ment of wounded New England men arrived at Camp Devens
to finish the convalescent period and for eventual discharge.
They were almost entirely Yankee Division men, 41 of them,
and they were as glad to reach Camp Devens as the men of the
42d were sorry to leave.
These wounded men were only the vanguard of thousands
that were to pour in on Devens. A convalescent center was
established in the Depot Brigade, and when a hospital train
loaded with wounded arrived at Devens from hospitals and
ports of debarkation to the South, the men were all taken to
the Base Hospital first, where they were examined by surgeons.
Those who were physically fit to stand it were assigned to the
Convalescent Center and those who needed still further treat-
ment were kept at the Base Hospital, being transferred to the
Convalescent Center just as soon as their physical condition
warranted it. And as soon as they were fit for discharge they
were sent back to civilian life.
More wounded men arrived on the day following: 43 more,
and word was also received to the effect that Camp Devens had
been selected as one of the military cantonments through which
thousands of men would pass on their way from the battlefields
of France to civilian life. It was to be a demobilization camp,
and one of the first outfits that would be sent there for demo-
bilization was the United States Guards who had been on duty
at bridges and munition plants throughout New England.
These United States Guards were made up of men who had
been found fit for domestic service only.
Steps were immediately started, when it was learned that
Devens was to function as a demobilization center, to provide
employment for the thousands of men destined to pass through
the camp. An employment organization covering the entire
country established offices at Camp Devens. The whole camp
152 FORGING THE SWORD
was "posted" with placards telling what there was in the way
of jobs, or where the men could find out about these jobs, and
folks settled down to the task of providing the returning men
with positions to go to as soon as they shed the uniform.
Thousands of men left camp with jobs to go to as soon as they
reached their home cities or towns, and in many instances these
jobs were better than the ones they had filled before the war.
The welfare organizations assisted whole-heartedly in this
work and the Knights of Columbus ran an employment bureau
for months after the biggest part of the demobilization job was
On December 1 1 New England had the first opportunity to
give returning soldiers their first greeting from the home land
as they arrived from abroad. The transport Canopic docked
at Boston with 1,120 officers and men, largely Air Service men,
who had been on duty in England with big Handley-Paige
night bombing planes. Some of them had seen France, but the
greater part of them hadn't. They arrived in the teeth of a
blinding snowstorm, and though but few of them were from
New England they received a welcome that almost swept them
off their feet. The trains on which they came from Boston to
Devens passed through what was to all intents and purposes a
single long alley of shouting, cheering, singing, weeping men,
women and children, while the city, town and village Avhistles
tooted and shrieked a welcome, and flags flew on every hand.
At Devens they were met at the train by guides and motor
trucks for their baggage, and they were led through the maze
of streets and barracks to the quarters formerly occupied by
the 42d Infantry, where they were at last informed that they
were officially home. They were tired, but more hungry than
tired. They were looking for "chow," until — some one dis-
covered hot showers in the building at the rear of each barracks!
Fatigue and hunger were immediately forgotten as the word of
this find passed from lip to lip, and there was a young riot as
the men rushed for that warm water, tearing off clothing at
Maj. Allan Pope Maj. Ralph Lowell Capt. H. ('.. Chambers
Capt. Charles Coolidge Chap. C. Y. Smith Capt. R. S. Edwards
Capt. John Buckley Capt. R. F. Nellk.w Chap. I i \ni
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FORGING THE SWORD 153
every jump. The rush didn't stop until every Canopic man
had bathed. Then they were ready for food.
Of course they had been given a wonderful reception and
everything possible had been done for them by the good people
of Boston and central Massachusetts, but it is perfectly safe to
say that there was not a single feature of their welcome that
appealed to them or was appreciated by them half as much as
On December 13 — lucky 13 this time — the skeleton of the
old 76th Division arrived back at Camp Devens. There
wasn't much left of it; in all 440 men and 27 officers of the
Headquarters Troop, Headquarters Detachment and an ambu-
lance company. They had been brought home on the trans-
port Kroonland, which docked at New York, and they returned
to Camp Devens on a special train from Camp Merritt, New
They were glad to be back home, but they were heartsick
over the fate of the old division, which had been so broken up
that these men were scarcely able to trace a single unit after it
arrived at its training base in France. After telling all they
could about what had happened to General Hodges' old out-
fit they discussed their "tough luck" at some length, and the
discussion usually ended with a gloomy:
"Don't it beat Hell how the New England outfits have got it
in the neck in this war?"
These men were mustered out of the service on December 17,
and it is feared that some left the service with a bitter taste in
Many of the returning overseas men — perhaps it would be
nearer the truth to say "just about all" — came back to this
country with "kicks" to make. And apparently most of them
were legitimate. Men arrived at Camp Devens who had not
been paid for eight and nine months. They hadn't received
any money for so long that they had just about given up hope
of ever getting any. It is only fair to say that the most of
these were men who had been wounded and had spent months
FORGING THE SWORD 155
in hospitals, though there were plenty who had not had this
Relief came to them as soon as General McCain found out
about their cases. He went down to their quarters and inter-
viewed them personally. When he left he ordered the camp
disbursing officer to pay the men what was due them at once.
He didn't wait to wade through red tape or even to get author-
ity from Washington, though he wired and asked for authority
to pay them as soon as he found out about their cases. If the
War Department had ruled that these men should not be paid
until their papers were found or until each individual case had
been straightened out through military channels — a procedure
that would have taken weeks — he would have been held per-
sonally responsible for the money that was paid out. But right
is right with McCain, and he instructed his disbursing officer to
pay each man what that man said was due him, in turn requir-
ing the man to make affidavit that the amount he asked for was
really due, and warning him that he would be liable to crim-
inal prosecution if he intentionally made a false affidavit.
There is no record at hand of any man who thus tried to " jip"
the Government, and the men vindicated the trust placed in
them by General McCain. In due time, of course, the author-
ization came through from Washington to pay the men off in
And as the overseas men began to arrive Camp Devens took
on added interest for New England folks, and they flocked to
the big cantonment every day, and especially on Sundays and
holidays. People who didn't know anybody there came in
hopes they might find some man who knew some one they knew
and to hear the boys' experiences at first hand.
And so the men continued to pour into Camp Devens and
pour out again. They came by twos and threes, by half-doz-
ens and dozens, by battalions and regiments and by the trans-
port-load. It didn't make any difference how fast they came,
apparently. There was always room for them and they were
156 FORGING THE SWORD
shunted out of the service almost as quickly as they had been
Major General Hodges visited Camp Devens on December
26 for the first time since he arrived back from France. He
went first to the Depot Brigade with the hope of finding some
of his old command there, but about all of them had been dis-
charged. He didn't say much about how he felt over what had
happened to the 76th Division, but he obviously regretted the
fact that the division didn't see action as a unit. He had noth-
ing but the highest praise for the men of the old outfit, and
stated that they had made good wherever they were sent. He
was much interested in the changes that had been made in
the camp, and made a tour all over it as the guest of General
That part of the Plymouth Division which saw foreign serv-
ice arrived back at Devens on December 27. There were 82
men and 77 officers in the party, and immediately on arrival
at camp they were sent back to their old units. They went
first to England, where they remained in camp a few days, and
then to France, soon being sent to a school at Chaumont. They
had attended the school only half a day when the armistice
came and they were ordered back to this country. They
didn't have much to do, but the fact that they went over
showed how near the 12th Division was ready to go.
Demobilization orders for the 12th Division arrived just in
time to kill one of the biggest experiments ever tried in the
United States Army. For two months, following the signing
of the armistice, General McCain had been working out a plan
whereby the men of his division might go back to civilian life
better prepared to shake a living out of the world than when
they entered the service. It has long been the contention
that, while a man may learn something in the navy that Avill be
of use to him on his return to civilian pursuits, the army offers
little, except a chance to improve his physical condition. It
was to alter this that General McCain proposed to try his
FORGING THE SWORD 157
With the assistance of prominent educational leaders in New
England, he formed what was known as the Camp Devens
Institute, an institution for the enlisted men, where they could
get, absolutely free of charge, instruction in almost any trade
or profession or subject that they might elect to study. In-
structors from civilian life and also from the army offered their
services and classes were just about ready to start — with hun-
dreds of men eager to attend, for the idea found instant favor
with them — in almost everything imaginable from plumbing to
astronomy. Then, on January 7, orders came through from
Washington to start the demobilization of the I2th Division,
and the whole plan was knocked in the head. The orders read
that up to fifty per cent of the strength of the division on
November 13, 1918, just after the armistice, were to be dis-
charged immediately, and there was no getting away from it.
The men had to go, many of them reluctantly giving up this
opportunity to better themselves, which would probably not
present itself again for a long time, at least.
Comparatively soon after the first demobilization orders were
received, came orders to let still more men go, and so, gradually
toward the end, the Plymouth Division, with the exception of
the Regulars who were in it, died out and as a division became
extinct. It was one of the finest fighting machines ever con-
structed in any country, and General McCain could truly say
of his 1 2th Division, as Major-General Clarence R. Edwards
was proud to say of his 26th, " It was a division with a soul,"
and with an unbeatable spirit of burning patriotism, from the
commander right down to the lowliest private.
General McCain stayed on at Devens long after the 12th
Division was demobilized. He remained as cantonment com-
mander and devoted his efforts to building up a demobilization
machine that held the record for any camp in the country on
daily discharge. The wounded and maimed continued to pour
into the Base Hospital and the Convalescent Center as long as
there were any left overseas to come home. They were coaxed
158 FORGING THE SWORD
back to health and strength, in so far as it was possible to do so,
at the Base Hospital, and many of them, during their conva-
lescent days, attended the classes conducted by the " reconstruc-
tion aids" in the Red Cross building, newly erected behind the
Base Hospital for the purpose of teaching the wounded and
permanently maimed man some method of earning his living
when he got out of the service.
The Red Cross, perhaps, did more for the wounded men at
Camp Devens than any other organization, though every single
society represented at Devens did everything they possibly
could. But the Knights of Columbus and the Y. M. C. A. and
the Jewish Welfare Board and the Salvation Army and the
others had their hands pretty full with the well ones. The
Red Cross had a recreation building right beside the Base
Hospital, and to that building many of the wounded and sick
were able to hobble.
Almost every week, usually on a Friday, a delegation of
actors would come up from Boston in the afternoon and give
these boys the best they had to offer from the little stage in one
end of the building. Fred Stone brought about half his com-
pany up there on more than one occasion. Every member of
the company "made up" and donned the stage costumes and
exerted himself or herself to the utmost for the benefit of these
boys. And when one part of the company had "done their
turn" on the stage they went right over to the hospital and
travelled from ward to ward, singing and laughing and chatting
with the men and doing everything in their power to make
painful hours shorter and brighter and help the lads on their
way to recovery.
Fred Stone nearly lost one of his biggest attractions the first
time he brought his players up to Camp Devens. They were
known as the Six Brown Brothers, and they all played saxo-
phones. It was the kind of music these lads had ached for
through many weary months, light, frothy, "jazzy" and full
of pep. It just swept them off their feet. When the sextet
FORGING THE SWORD 159
finally got away from the Red Cross building they were as
breathless and perspiring as though they had just broken all
records for the mile run, but they headed for the hospital just
the same, short of breath but long on spirit.
They started to play almost as soon as they entered the door,
and then they marched from ward to ward, filling the squat,
rambling building with ragtime that nearly cured half the hos-
pital right then and there. They played and played and played ,
and still the men begged for more, begged so hard that the good-
hearted players could not resist, and when Mr. Stone and the
rest of his company were all changed and ready to start back
for Boston and the evening show the Six Brown Brothers were
still missing. Finally Mr. Stone himself had to go and simply
drag them away, with promises to come again, which they did.
So it went all through the winter, men coming in almost
every day, transports landing in Boston laden with war-weary
doughboys who were shipped immediately to camp, and spent
an uncomfortable few hours going through the delouser, and
shifting from their temporary billets in the "rest area" to their
permanent billets in the camp proper. But their permanent
billets were permanent in name only, for they were discharged
or sent to other cantonments nearer their homes just as fast as
they could be handled. Occasional lack of transportation tied
up General McCain and his staff sometimes, but for the most
part the men went through regularly and steadily. It was a
humdrum process for the men who had to do the demobilizing,
but an agreeable one for those being demobilized.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE Y-D
With the coming of spring there also came the last big event
at Camp Devens — the arrival of the 26th (Yankee) Division,
those heroic lads who for more than twenty months had trained
and fought and bled and died in France. The only division
New England was allowed to put into the fighting line as a
representative unit, and one which upheld the highest tradi-
tions of its home states. The coming of these fighters was one
of the most glorious days New England and Camp Devens
It was on April 4 that the first of them arrived. Two days
before Brigadier-General Charles H. Cole, who had come home
in advance of the division, arrived at Devens and held confer-
ences with General McCain and other officers concerned in the
billeting, provisioning and discharging of the unit, so that when
the huge transport Mount Vernon steamed majestically into
Boston Harbor with 5,800 yelling officers and men on board of
her, and Boston and the rest of New England was almost turn-
ing inside out with joy over their return, Devens was already
to receive them.
That day will go down in history as one of the greatest the
New England States ever knew. Certainly there was never
such a reception tendered any other body of men, and nothing
can ever surpass it for spontaneous joy and relief and just plain
crazy hilarity. The men stepped right from the transport to
the trains and were borne through more than fifty miles of
screaming, whistling, weeping, shouting, clanging Massachu-
setts countryside. They almost ran a gauntlet of humanity
right from the transports to the camp, for every town, city and
hamlet turned out to the last man, woman, child and wiggling
Colonel George C. Shaw
Governor McCall, General McCain
and General Edwards Proudly
Watch the 12th Division
I WAR IS ENDED'
■'WT CALLS ARE CANCELED !
The "GLOBE" brings
( .\n \i\ John F. Conole'y
The First Bunch of Wounded Men to Arrive at Devens; Shot to
Pieces, but Happy to be Home
Photo by George II. Davis. Jr., Boston Globt
Discharged! The Last March Through Camp, and One of the
Col. M. N. Falls Lt.-Col. E. F. Harding Lt.-Col. Frothixgham
Maj. Philips. Se/rs Chap. J. H. Twitchell Maj. Briggs
Capt. Vincent Chap. L. A. Ramsay Capt. Whitman
FORGING THE SWORD 161
cur dog to do honor to these men as they steamed by behind
shrieking and decorated engines.
On their arrival at camp they were marched right to the rest
area across from the quartermaster storehouses and all around
the delousing plant, and there went into temporary billets,
which consisted largely of tents. Within thirty minutes of the
time the first trainload arrived, men were on their way through
They weren't supposed to meet and greet their loved ones
until after the deverminizing process was over, but it would
have taken some force greater than that of arms to keep those
joy-crazed mothers and fathers and sisters and sweethearts
back, and in many cases husky, bronzed young fighters were
swept right into the arms of their dear ones as they stepped
from the trains, cooties or no cooties. The cooties were about
the scarcest article to be found on the Y-D men, but the de-
lousing had to be gone through as a precautionary measure.
As soon as they had been deloused, however, and came forth
from the plant, hot and steaming and clean, they were shifted
to their permanent billets and were allowed to mingle with the
thousands of loyal New Englanders who flocked to camp to see
them. Leaves were given, too, for the Yankee Division was to
stay at Camp Devens for nearly a month so as to be able to
parade through the streets of Boston as a unit and show the
battle-scarred ranks to the home folks.
On the Mount Vernon were the Division Headquarters, with
Major-General Harry C. Hale, then commander of the division ;
the Headquarters Troop and Military Police, the Headquarters
of the 52d Infantry Brigade, the ioist Engineers and the 104th
The transport America arrived on April 5 with 7,209 officers
and men, including the ioist Infantry — the Boston Regiment
— the Headquarters of the 51st Infantry Brigade and the 103d
Infantry, with Brigadier-General George H. Shelton. They
received a no less hearty reception.
162 FORGING THE SWORD
The Agamemnon came in on April 7 with the I02d Infantry,
the 101st Machine Gun Battalion and part of the 101st Field
Artillery, 5,214 officers and men in all.
The camp was absorbing them as fast as they came, and they
were going through the delouser at a greater rate of speed than
the most optimistic had hoped for, though the debusing plant
at Camp Devens was only a small one.
The Mongolia arrived on April 10 with the 51st Artillery
Brigade, some 4,708 officers and men led by Brigadier-General
John H. Sherburne. The remainder of the division arrived on
the Patricia on April 17, the Winifredian. on April 18 and the
battleship New Jersey.
General Hale had established the Yankee Division Head-
quarters in the building just across Division Street from the
Cantonment Headquarters, and he and his staff were working
in the closest harmony with General McCain and the canton-
ment staff. It was one of the finest pieces of teamwork that
had ever been seen at Camp Devens.
During the wait for all of the Yankee Division to get in and
get deloused General Hale kept something doing every minute.
Part of the men were away on pass all the time, but it was
arranged that every regiment in the 26th Division should give
a regimental parade on a separate day, thus affording the home
folks an opportunity to see their own particular lads go through
their paces, as permission to send units to their home areas for
individual parades had been refused in Washington.
On April 19, when the 101st Infantry staged their parade
before a perfectly tremendous gathering, General Peyton C.
March, chief of the General Staff in Washington, arrived at
Camp Devens for a conference with General McCain and to
look over Camp Devens, which he had never seen before. He
appeared on the main parade field where the 101st Infantry
was drawn up and Colonel Edward L. Logan, commander of
the regiment, was presented to him. He then made a tour of
the cantonment with General McCain and departed that night.
FORGING THE SWORD 163
No one knew just what his real reasons were for coming there,
but they were ostensibly for the purpose of inspecting the
cantonment with a view to buying it and making of it a per-
manent military post.
And Camp Devens had its biggest day still to come. It was
on April 22, when the 26th Division made its last appearance as
a full division in military formation. All New England came
to the camp on that day. At least that was the way it seemed,
for there was never before nor since such a crowd of humanity
jammed together on one comparatively small area. The
Military Police, who had the handling of the crowds, estimated
that there were a quarter of a million visitors there, and it
seemed to those who saw the ceremony that their estimate was
a conservative one.
Wearing their steel helmets and carrying the weapons that
had played so noble a part in the whipping of the Boche, the
Yankee Division was drawn up on the main parade field at 1
o'clock in the afternoon. The governors of the six New Eng-
land States were there. So was Major-General Clarence R.
Edwards, organizer and trainer and commander of the division
through the greater part of its fighting. The division was in-
spected by these notables, while the massed bands of the
division — some 250 pieces — blared forth its stirring music.
Then came a ceremony New England had never seen before :
the decorating of the colors of the division units with their
battle streamers. These long bright ribbons, which were at-
tached to the staffs of the regimental flags, were awarded by
the War Department, and they were inscribed with the differ-
ent battles in which each unit had taken part. The long line
of colors moved forward to the generals, each color escorted by
the commander of the regiment. It was a gorgeous spectacle.
Before the final act of this impressive drama — the last
review — 49 men received decorations for valor; 48 were mili-
tary men and the 49th was a civilian, Michael Perkins of
Boston, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for
164 FORGING THE SWORD
his son, young " Micky " Perkins, the bravest of the brave, who
gave his life in France. Of the military men who received Dis-
tinguished Service Crosses and several varieties of foreign
decorations, General Edwards awarded half and General Hale
the other half.
Then came the review, and more than 20,000 men swept
past a cheering host of proud and happy loved ones in the last
scrictly military maneuver of the 26th Division.
On Thursday, April 24, seven long trains, bearing approxi-
mately half the division, pulled out of Camp Devens bound for
Boston. The division was to parade there on the 25th, to
receive more plaudits from the home folks. Those who went
on Thursday had that night in the city and after the parade
immediately entrained for camp. The other half of the divi-
sion went down on Friday morning, participated in the parade
and returned to camp on Saturday. This was positively their
last appearance, and on April 28 the demobilization of the
In two short days Camp Devens was turned from a busy
city, seething with humanity, to what seemed in contrast
an almost deserted village. For Devens broke all records in
the country in discharging the 26th Division. The record for
the number of men discharged by any camp in one day up to
that time had been about4,ooo. On April 28, General McCain's
discharging force, under the direction of Captain George C.
Tait, camp personnel adjutant, discharged over 7,000 individual
soldiers. These took in the men of the 101st, 103d and 104th
Infantry Regiments. On the 29th they broke their own record
by sending out more than 9,000 men. It was a feat as yet
unparalleled in the military history of this country.
"APRES LA GUERRE"
That was really the end of Camp Devens. More men con-
tinued to come. They came by the thousands, among them a
number of famous New England units: The 14th (Railway)
Engineers, recruited from the ranks of New England railroad
men, and a unit which, despite many handicaps, made a proud
name for itself and for New England while on the other side.
The 301st Engineers of the old 76th Division also came in as a
unit, after having been a part of the Army of Occupation in
Germany for some time.
But these outfits were demobilized and the men discharged
as quickly as possible, and the passing of the 26th Division
really marked the end of Camp Devens as a center for the pub-
Parts of the 32d Division arrived some time after the 26th,
but they consisted of Middle West National Guard units and
they were sent out to their own cantonments for discharge
after being deloused at Camp Devens. The wounded contin-
ued to come as long as there were any left to be distributed,
but soon these ceased to arrive, and finally the Base Hospital
ceased to exist. Much of the great institution was closed up
and what was kept open was used as a camp hospital only.
As the number of men dwindled and fewer and fewer came in
for discharge, the whole Depot Brigade area was closed as well
as the area known as the 303d and 304th Infantry barracks.
Then the 302d Infantry area was closed, leaving only the 36th
Infantry (the old 301st Infantry area) occupying infantry bar-
racks. The artillery area was used to house the demobiliza-
tion group as long as there was any left, but as the greater
portion of our men returned from across the water, and Camp
166 FORGING THE SWORD
Devens got fewer and fewer of them, the demobilization group
was cut down until there were only about ioo men in it.
Finally, as there was less and less for it to do, the demobiliza-
tion group passed out of existence altogether, and with its
passing Devens ceased to exist as a demobilization center.
So, while Camp Devens sprang up almost over night as re-
gards population, it went down gradually, until less than 2,000
soldiers were left there. New England found it hard to recon-
cile the cantonment they had known during the war and the
demobilization period with what they found there during the
late summer and fall of 1919. From a vast area teeming with
life and activity, the big camp seemed to sink into a sleepy,
rather dreary looking expanse covered with weather-beaten
buildings — and not much else.
The thousands of buildings that housed the tens of thousands
of men were not torn down. They were just emptied and
closed. The equipment they contained was cared for by the
salvage officers, and the water was drained from the pipes to
prevent their utter destruction with the arrival of cold weather.
It was stated that it was considered inadvisable to try and
dispose of any of the buildings not in use, even had the War
Department showed any disposition to do so, because it would
be a losing proposition for the Government in that it would
actually cost money to give the lumber away, no contractor
being willing, apparently, to tear down the buildings and carry
away the material for the value of the material itself. It was
said to be too expensive a task, owing for one thing to the
location of the camp.
So the buildings just stayed there, and because there were
not enough men stationed at Devens to do the work on top of
their regular duties, civilian watchmen were hired to patrol
the abandoned areas and act as guards against fires, etc. Hun-
dreds of civilians had to be employed in other capacities also,
in many cases the men who had been doing a particular job
while in the service taking their discharges and then contin-
FORGING THE SWORD 167
uing with the work as civilian employees at considerably more
pay than the munificent army remuneration of $30 per. Es-
pecially was this true of clerks and men who had served in the
Then, too, the labor battalions, composed of colored lads
from the South, went back to the land of sunshine, cotton and
watermelons, and there were not enough men left to do their
work. So, in the early fall of 1919, a detachment of one hun-
dred general prisoners was sent up from New York to finish out
their terms at Devens and there to perform whatever labor was
required of them.
Many of these chaps — for the most part pretty good scouts
who had simply been "out of luck" or rather wild during their
service on the other side — attracted considerable attention from
New England people on their arrival at Devens because of the
disclosures that were then being made regarding the cruelties of
Lieutenant "Hard-Boiled" Smith to American soldiers who
came under his jurisdiction at Farm Number 2 near Paris.
Some of these prisoners who came to Devens had felt the cruel
and heavy hand of this petty tyrant, who, not content with
abusing the bodies of American soldiers, sought to crush their
spirits and if possible their souls. These lads who came to
Devens told their stories to the Boston Globe and the Globe told
them to New England.
And at last even these lads went away, swallowed up by
hungry cities and towns all over the country. They left at
least one beautiful piece of work behind them, however.
Everybody who served at Devens will remember how bare of
grass and how dusty the main parade field was, especially when
there was a wind blowing and drills were going on at the same
time. Well, it isn't bare any more. It was General McCain's
idea to transform that barren expanse of earth into a green,
velvety carpet, and he succeeded in doing it. He had the field
ploughed up and seeded, the prisoners doing most of the work,
and before the cold weather descended on the camp the main
168 FORGING THE SWORD
parade field was covered with light green, tender grass. In the
spring it was seeded again and rolled, so that summer found
it a great, deep green carpet.
The general also had the ponds which were scattered over the
camp stocked with fish and the entire reservation stocked with
birds. This was accomplished through the generous co-opera-
tion of the Massachusetts Fish and Game Commission. Then
every officer and man in the camp was made a "game warden, "
and they proved efficient ones, too.
General McCain was devoting his every effort to Devens and
the men in it during the less strenuous times of peace just as he
did during the busy days of war. He waged extensive recruit-
ing campaigns throughout New England and brought hundreds
of men into the Regular service.
Because of his own efforts and the assistance and co-opera-
tion of the Knights of Columbus, he had something to offer
these men that few if any of the other camps in the country had.
For in the big building near the camp post-office, which used to
be the Camp Devens laundry, there was now the "Camp Devens
Schools," an offspring of what would have been the Camp
Devens Institute mentioned in a preceding chapter. Here men
stationed at Devens could study almost any trade they chose,
entirely without cost to themselves. Many a man took advan-
tage of this opportunity to gain for himself, while serving in the
army, something he could not have received in civilian life
without considerable expense and double the amount of work.
A number of New England fathers and mothers heard about
this school, wrote to the general for particulars and later sent
their sons to him for a year of army training, coupled with an
equal amount of trade training that enabled them on their
return to civilian life to jump into the industrial scrimmage
several stages ahead of the lads who were content just to get a
job on their release from war service and work at it.
The general is a firm believer in universal training, but he
insists that some such plan as this, where the young men of the
"Over the Top" for the Last Time, and Into the Arms of Their Wait-
ing Families — Overseas Men Returning to Devens for Discharge
I )\n Was Prei iv I >ARNED ( i
When i he Bo\ < '.<»r I Iome
FROM THE W M<
The Colors of the 301 st Engineers Coming Up to Dock at Bostoi
Just Back from France and Germany
Devens Had Its Own Railroad Yard, dni.i a Part of Which is Shown
Here, but This Was the First Glimpse of the Camp
for Thousands of Men Just Back from France
FORGING THE SWORD 169
country will not only be taught to fight their Nation's battles
but also their own industrial battles in civilian life, must be
offered if the universal training idea is to be acceptable to the
people of the United States. This has been General McCain's
belief through many years of army experience, and he knows
well the folly of asking and trying and hoping for a sizeable
volunteer army in times of peace unless the army has something
besides a small amount of money each month to offer the men
of the country in return for their service.
And while on the subject of what General McCain did for
Devens, for New England and for the country while he com-
manded Camp Devens, it might be well to mention what the
members of Congress — not the War Department — did for him
in recognition of his services. An honor was conferred on him
that was not accorded any other officer in the United States
On October 30, 1919, General McCain was summoned to
Washington by members of both the United States Senate and
the House of Representatives. In the room of the Speaker
of the House, before a delegation of members of both Houses
and General McCain's wife and daughter, Honorable Champ
Clark of Missouri, Senator Chamberlain of Oregon who was
chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee during the
war, and Honorable "Uncle Joe" Cannon, paid personal and
representative tribute to the soldier who stood before them.
To " Uncle Joe " fell the honor of presenting to General McCain,
in the name of the members of both Houses, a beautiful silver
pitcher and tray engraved as follows:
Presented to Major-General H. P. McCain by
His Admirers in the Senate and House of Repre-
sentatives of the Sixty-Fifth Congress as an
Evidence of Their High Regard for Him as a
Soldier and in Appreciation of His Great Effi-
ciency and Uniform Courtesy While He Was the
Adjutant-General of the Army.
170 FORGING THE SWORD
Champ Clark declared that there was not a member of the
House or of the Senate who did not feel under obligation to
General McCain, and he said that the general was "one of the
most efficient men who was connected in any way, shape, form
or fashion with this war."
Senator Chamberlain said that when, on August 26, 191 8,
General McCain was transferred from the Adjutant-General's
Department to command a training division there was not a
man in the Senate or in the House who did not feel a sense of
shock at the change.
" I say that without questioning the purpose of the military
establishment or the efficiency or ability of General McCain's
successor," said Senator Chamberlain, "but here was a man
who had mobilized the army of the United States for the Mex-
ican Border and had done it splendidly; here was a man who
had been in the Adjutant-General's Department from 1900
until 1 91 8, whose ability was conceded and acknowledged by
everybody, transferred in a night to command a division,
and everybody knew that that was not his particular line
"Some of us took the liberty of going to General McCain — I
among the rest — and suggesting that if his friends could do any-
thing to keep him where he was and where he had performed
such splendid service, they would be glad to do it; but, like the
true soldier and man he is, he said, 'I am, first, a soldier, and
whatever command I receive I obey.'"
Senator Chamberlain went on to say that the secretary of
war and the chief of staff both declared that General McCain
was sent to train a combat division "because they wanted
fighting men to train divisions and General McCain was a
"Uncle Joe" Cannon said that, while Mississippi claimed
General McCain, he belonged to the whole United States.
And then, quietly but sincerely, he paid the following tribute to
this soldier who had been summoned to Washington:
FORGING THE SWORD 171
I would rather have lived the life General McCain has lived and per-
formed the service to the Republic that he has performed than to have been
Speaker of the House of Representatives, to have been a member of the
Senate or to have had a four-year term as President of the United States.
General McCain, the country appreciates your great service. History
will do you full justice, but, after all — and I turn here to Mrs. McCain and
your daughter — the Congress of the United States and the people of the
country owe you something now, because when you are dead and gone and
they are dead and gone, you will be dead, and while it is nice to dwell in
history as you will, yet some recognition of your great service, as I say,
ought to be given by the people now.
General McCain, in presenting you with this testimonial of our apprecia-
tion we honor most ourselves.
The following day General McCain returned to Camp Dev-
ens. In speaking about the ceremony in Washington he said:
"That is reward enough for me. It means more than I can
Later he was made a companion in the Order of St. Michael
and St. George by the Prince of Wales during the latter's visit
to this country.
New England naturally rejoiced with the general as these
honors were done him, for people felt that in his services being
so appreciated they were themselves honored. For, with the
exception of Major-General Clarence R. Edwards, who led the
first New England men to go to France through months of
death and glory, there was no division commander so respected
and loved by the people of the six New England States as
Major-General Henry P. McCain.
So, with this poor recitation of the qualities of the last war
commander of Camp Devens, let us stop. The camp will live
for years to come, literally as well as in the memory of those
who served there. For the Government owns it now — about
3,500 acres of it — and it is a Regular Army Post.
It was and is a good camp; among the best in the country.
Some of the fellows who served at other cantonments on this
side and overseas will vouch for that. For its good points — the
172 FORGING THE SWORD
many respects in which it was superior to other American can-
tonments — we have the men who served there to thank. They
are the ones who made it great. And as we look back on our
Devens days with justifiable pride, perhaps it would be just as
well for us to remember the fellows who would have given their
right eye to get overseas, but who, being denied this, stuck to
the job over here and "carried on" for all they were worth.